Overview

Senate Bill 74 of the 61st Legislature in 1969 provides that analysis of a person’s breath to determine alcohol concentration must be performed according to methods approved by the Texas Department of Public Safety and by an individual possessing a valid certificate issued by the Department for this purpose. This bill also authorized the Department of Public Safety to approve satisfactory techniques or methods, to ascertain the qualifications and competence of individuals to conduct such analysis, and to issue certificates certifying such fact.

In order to carry out the provisions of this bill, the Texas Department of Public Safety promulgated the Texas Breath Alcohol Testing Regulations contained in Texas Administrative Code Title 37 Chapter 19. The Department has created the Office of the Scientific Director, DPS Crime Laboratory, to administer these regulations and qualifications. All analyses by state, county, and city law enforcement officials are performed in accordance with these regulations which require either the certification or approval of all aspects of forensic breath alcohol testing. These analyses are conducted in over 400 approved testing facilities by one of approximately 6000 certified breath test operators representing some 700 different law enforcement agencies.

Scientific Director
The Scientific Director is the manager of the Breath Alcohol Laboratory (BAL) as well as the individual responsible for the implementation, administration and enforcement of the Texas Breath Alcohol Testing Regulations. In as much, the Office of the Scientific Director evaluates breath alcohol instrumentation to determine its appropriateness for forensic breath alcohol analysis, devises and validates evidential test methodologies for approval in forensic breath alcohol testing, directly manages the Department’s forensic scientist Technical Supervisors, provides scientific expertise in forensic alcohol testing to various bodies including the Texas Legislature, and provides regulatory oversight for forensic scientist Technical Supervisors, evidential breath alcohol test programs, and breath test operator schools operating outside the DPS Crime Laboratory System.

Technical Supervision
The Scientific Director certifies qualified forensic scientists as Technical Supervisors. The primary function of the Technical Supervisor is to provide technical, administrative and supervisory expertise in safeguarding the scientific integrity of the breath alcohol testing program and to assure the acceptability of the forensic breath analysis in legal proceedings. The Technical Supervisor, in matters pertaining to breath alcohol testing, is the field agent of the Scientific Director.

Instrument Certification

The Scientific Director evaluates breath alcohol test instrumentation to determine its fitness for purpose. If the devices satisfactorily comply with the Regulations and meet the criteria of the Scientific Director, they are added to a list of approved instruments by instrument brand and or model designation. The Technical Supervisor determines if a specific instrument by serial number is of the same manufacturer brand and or model designation as is shown on the list of approved reference sample devices and meets the criteria for certification as an evidential breath test instrument for use in the field.

Ignition Interlock Devices

Contact the Office of the Scientific Director for the evaluation and approval of breath alcohol ignition interlock devices (BAIID). Reference Regulatory Services Division - Ignition Interlock for Implementation.

Breath Alcohol Instrument Operator Schools
The Office of the Scientific Director has developed comprehensive training standards and curricula for the certification of individuals conducting evidential breath alcohol analyses for law enforcement purposes. The Scientific Director approves these courses of instruction. Prior to certification, persons seeking such training must establish proof of participation in a breath test program meeting the requirements of the Regulations. Therefore, individuals desiring to undertake such training are encouraged to contact the Technical Supervisor within their jurisdiction prior to seeking enrollment in an approved operator course.

Instrument Calibration and Certified Reference Materials
The Department’s Crime Laboratory Service ensures statewide quality assurance and operational standards are followed by law enforcement agencies when administering breath alcohol analyses through its Breath Alcohol Laboratory (BAL). To accomplish these goals, the BAL provides training, equipment, supplies, and laboratory support to local, state, and federal authorities. Standardized calibration procedures, both within the BAL and those laboratories outside of the DPS Crime Laboratory System, were developed by the Scientific Director. All laboratories utilize certified reference materials traceable to the National Institute of Standards and Technology when implementing these calibration procedures.

Resources:

Contact Information:
Breath Alcohol Laboratory
Office of the Scientific Director
MSC 0570
P.O. Box 4087
Austin, Texas 78773-0570
Phone:  (512) 424-5200

Contact a breath alcohol testing representative by email