ASD vs. EBT: How To Choose The Right Alcohol Testing Device
- By: Andrew Easler, Esq.
- Published: Jun, 13 2017
- Updated: Dec, 20 2022
There are two types of devices which are approved by NHTSA for alcohol testing under DOT regulations, Alcohol Screening Devices (ASD) and Evidential Breath Testing Devices (EBT).
An ASD is a product which samples either saliva or breath to screen for the presence of alcohol in the system, but is limited to completing only half of the test if the concentration is above 0.020. This would be a problem if you were in a remote location as it would require that another test be conducted using an EBT device as soon as possible.
An EBT device, on the other hand, is approved for both screening and confirmation, allowing for virtually any test to be completed on-site regardless of concentration. The benefit is clear here, but these do cost a bit more than ASDs. The cost in most cases is certainly worth the investment. Depending on how much a BAT would charge to conduct the confirmation test, owning your own EBT would more than pay for itself if you had to call a technician out just three or four times for a confirmation test (including their mobile and/or after hours call out fee).
All devices are not created equal
While they are approved by NHTSA, some devices on the Conforming Product's List (CPL) are more reliable and accurate than others. For example, one of the cheapest EBT's you can buy is manufactured by Alcovisor, a manufacturer based in China. In my experience, these products are built to be used infrequently (touch screens wear down very quickly), and do not have the kind of support from the manufacturer we would expect from an EBT manufacturer.
For example, you test an employee after a reasonable suspicion. He tests positive on the screening and on the confirmation. He is referred to an SAP and is let go from his position. Later, he claims that the device was not calibrated properly and that it is unreliable. He hires a lawyer to fight a wrongful dismissal case for him. Since he claims the device is unreliable, you may need the manufacturer to provide documentation, scientific evidence, trials, and maintenance records to prove that their device is, in fact, reliable. A manufacturer in China is unlikely to be able to adequately support you in this endeavor (I personally reached out to Alcovisor by email and phone, but never got a call or email back until I had someone leave a message in Mandarin). For that reason, we recommend a US-based manufacturer like Lifeloc (Colorado--not to be confused with "Lifelock" that identity protection service!) or Intoximeters (Missouri).
Intoximeters has been in the industry essentially since alcohol testing began in the US. They have a good reputation and reliable devices and would most certainly be there to support you in any legal case. In my opinion, they are a little old-fashioned, their devices are a little tricky to get the hang of and navigate, and a little above the mark on price, but as with pretty much anything else, you get what you pay for. Their flagship product is the RBT Vxl System, the next generation after their popular and steadfast RBT IV System product.
Lifeloc, like Intoximeters, has a stellar reputation in the industry and has a very forward-thinking strategy. In my opinion, their devices are easy to learn and reliable. They value quality, but aren't unreasonable on sales and pricing--even offering a unique leasing program that gives you ownership at the end of the lease. They have two EBT devices which are designed for workplace and DOT workplace testing: the EV30 and the Phoenix 6.0BT. The EV30 is the mid-range product, which is good for moderate usage over a long period of time (5-6 years depending on usage) and the Phoenix 6.0BT is an upper range product which will probably last you ten years or more. They will most certainly be there to support their products and back them up with a two year "bumper-to-bumper" warranty to prove it. You can also view their products page here:
In order to use any ASD or EBT device, you will need proficiency training and training on the regulations governing the testing process in your jurisdiction.
The information on this page may have changed since we first published it. We give great legal advice, but this page (and the rest of our site) is for informational use only and is no substitute for actual legal advice. If you’d like to establish an attorney-client relationship, reach out to us and we’ll tell you how we can make it official. Sending us an email or reading this page alone doesn’t mean we represent you.
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