The original breathalyzer was based upon a crystal-filled tube, with a bag to ensure a correct sample was taken and was introduced into the UK by Dräeger in 1967.  Several other manufacturers produced tubes without bags, however without the bag to determine a correct sample size the results were far too unreliable for law-enforcement use.

In 1979 Dräeger produced the first digital breathalyzer, allowing multiple tests to be carried out far more accurately.