Showing posts with label Rolla Harger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rolla Harger. Show all posts

Jan 18, 2011


I like the old name better than the new 'breathalyzer'. Police in Indianapolis first used the drunkometer in 1938 on New Year's Eve.

The drunkometer, which had you breathe into a balloon, was invented by Dr. Rolla N. Harger, an Indiana University biochemist, in 1931. He patented his device in 1936 and helped draft the act that made it the legal method for helping establish blood-alcohol level. It was the first tool to successfully measure alcohol levels using breath analysis. The subject blew into a balloon and the captured air was then mixed with a chemical solution, which changed color if alcohol was present. The darker the solution became, the more alcohol contained in the breath. The level of alcohol in the person’s bloodstream was estimated using a mathematical formula, which Harger also developed. 

Attempts to measure alcohol levels by measuring breath content date back to the late 1700s, but prior to the drunkometer, the only effective method was through the direct testing of blood or urine samples.

In 1954, the breathalyzer, which replaced Harger’s drunkometer, was invented by Dr. Robert Borkenstein, a laboratory technician with the Indiana State Police. Probably not a good idea to drink and drive in Indiana.