Robert F. Borkenstein's Breathalyzer

Robert F. Borkenstein's Breathalyzer

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
Robert F. Borkenstein's Breathalyzer, Model 900. Borkenstein developed this device for use in police stations with the advantage that it was easy and simple enough for police to use, and they saved time and expense as they didn’t need a physician to come in, and didn’t have to take the suspect to the hospital for a phlebotomist to draw blood. People would blow into balloons and that air in the balloons was later tested, which was the primary method for evidentiary breath testing through for several decades, 1960s-80s. This was an inexpensive way to test intoxication and meant that BAC (blood alcohol content) could be used as evidence. This particular machine was owned by Borkenstein, who gave it to Robert Voas.
Currently not on view
Object Name
breath alcohol tester
breath alcohol testerbreath alcohol tester
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 10 1/8 in x 8 3/8 in x 7 3/4 in; 25.7175 cm x 21.2725 cm x 19.685 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Road
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object