Breathalyser review - Introduction

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  • Do personal breathalysers work?
  • We test eight devices scientifically
  • Units from £20-£300 tested
Personal breathalysers divide opinion; some believe they encourage drivers to drink as much as possible while staying just within limit, whereas others see them as a safety device that ensures you don't drive if you've had one too many, or if you're still not clear-headed the morning after.

Whatever their view, most people expect a personal breathalyser to give an accurate reading of how much alcohol is in the driver's body. To find out if this really is the case, we tested eight breathalysers ranging in price from £20 to £300.

The test
Each breathalyser was first tested at a Breath Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.02, the level proposed for professional drivers in Northern Ireland and a quarter of the current UK drink-drive limit. This was followed by a test at the current UK limit of 0.08 BAC.

All units were then subjected to an alcohol concentration of 0.40 BAC (five times the UK drink-drive limit) then two tests at 0.02 BAC, to see how the units responded to a low concentration after a high one. Four more tests were carried out: 0.14 BAC followed by 0.02 BAC, which was then repeated.

Breathalysers by rank
1 AlcoDigital 3000 – £299.00
2 AlcoHAWK Pro – £124.00
3 AlcoSense Elite – £53.98
4 AlcoHAWK Slim 2 – £59.00
5 AlcoSense Lite – £34.99
6 AlcoSense One – £19.99
7 AlcoHAWK Micro – £19.99
8 AlcoSafe KX6000S – £64.00

What Car? winners
Best £100+: AlcoDigital 3000
Best £40-100: AlcoSense Elite
Best £0-£40: AlcoSense Lite

Equipment and method
We used a Dräger Mk 2 wet bath simulator with a regulated air supply to ensure consistent pressure and temperature of ‘breath’ samples, and certified and sealed alcohol solutions. Our control device was calibrated with dry gas at the start of the test.

Breathalyser review - 1st – AlcoDigital 3000


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