The influence of alcohol content variation in UK packaged beers on the uncertainty of calculations using the Widmark Equation

Peter Maskell, Calum Holmes, Margaux Huismann, Struan Reid, Martin Carr, Benjamin Jones, Dawn Maskell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


It is common for forensic practitioners to calculate an individual's likely blood alcohol concentration following the consumption of alcoholic beverage(s) for legal purposes, such as in driving under the influence (DUI) cases. It is important in these cases to be able to give the uncertainty of measurement on any calculated result, for this reason uncertainty data for the variables used for any calculation are required. In order to determine the uncertainty associated with the alcohol concentration of beer in the UK the alcohol concentration (%v/v) of 218 packaged beers (112 with an alcohol concentration of ≤5.5%v/v and 106 with an alcohol concentration of >5.5%v/v) were tested using an industry standard near infra-red (NIR) analyser. The range of labelled beer alcohol by volume (ABV's) tested was 3.4%v/v – 14%v/v. The beers were obtained from a range of outlets throughout the UK over a period of 12 months. The root mean square error (RMSE) was found to be ±0.43%v/v (beers with declared %ABV of ≤5.5%v/v) and ±0.53%v/v (beers with declared %ABV of >5.5%v/v) the RMSE for all beers was ±0.48%v/v. The standard deviation from the declared %ABV is larger than those previously utilised for uncertainty calculations and illustrates the importance of appropriate experimental data for use in the determination of uncertainty in forensic calculations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-275
Number of pages5
JournalScience and Justice
Issue number4
Early online date6 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


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