No one should ever be tempted to drink and drive, and it is always best to be certain that as a driver you are on the right side of the law. The alcohol limits vary from place to place, but one thing that no one can argue with is that being able to use a quality breathalyzer before taking to the wheel is a sensible idea.
Not only can they prevent a person from ending up with points on their license, a hefty fine, and a potential ban, but it can save lives. This is only when using a quality product and accuracy is key here. To help make this important decision easier, we have created a list of the best breathalyzers on the market.
Quick Summary of Breathalysers
BACtrack S80 Breathalyzer
A professional-grade breathalyzer in anybody’s book, this is one of the easiest to use and most effective. With numerous positive reviews from tech sites and the like, it has built a reputation for being reliable. It works when the user blows for 5 seconds and only takes 10 seconds to deliver the results after. Included are 6 reusable mouthpieces and it works after 15 minutes of consuming alcohol.
Powered by AA batteries, it is easily portable and can be kept in the vehicle to ensure that it is never driven when over the limit. It is DOT approved in 50 States and has been through rigorous testing to ensure it is accurate. The measurements are given in 4 easy to read digits and even have advanced temperature compensation so it can be used in different climates.
- Only takes 5 seconds of blowing
- DOT approved in 50 States
- Uses AA batteries
- Considered to be one of the most accurate
BACtrack Mobile Smartphone Breathalyzer
Best Smartphone Compatible
for many people, this is the best breathalyzer because it is easy to use and compatible with most smartphones. The device is about as compact as they come, at only 2.75 inches tall. Not only this but when synced with a smartphone, it can give an estimate as to what time the user might be sober by. At this point, the user can use the breathalyzer again to see if they can get home safely.
It uses the same technology that is trusted by law enforcement officials and hospitals so it can be trusted to be accurate and comes with a 1-year warranty. The compatible app is free and has additional features to make driving safer, even offering the user the chance to call an uber directly from the app.
- Estimates when BAC will return to 0
- Comes with a 1-year warranty
- The same technology that is used by law enforcement
- Requires wireless connection
BACtrack C6 Keychain Breathalyzer
It is easy to see why BACtrack is one of the leading brands in the world of breathalyzers. This is their best keychain effort and it is no surprise to see that it is convenient and compact. There is the option to connect it to a smartphone via their free app but it does display each reading on the side of the device.
It can help with estimates as to when the BAC level will return to 0 which is when it is most safe to drive. It is easy to switch between taking readings on the app or the device and only needs 1 x AAA battery to work. The device only takes a few seconds to estimate alcohol levels and weighs just 57 g.
- Small and convenient
- Takes readings in a few seconds
- Compatible with the free app
- Weighs 57g
- The display is a little small
BACtrack Trace Breathalyzer
One of the more affordable breathalyzers, it has been described as police-grade accurate and handles high BAC levels to a reliable level. Accurate to the third decimal, it has a one-button operation so taking a reading is simple and effective. It comes with 2 x AAA batteries which are easily available when it comes to replacing them and results only take 10 seconds.
The LCD screen is bright and easy to read and it is even possible to check on the last 10 readings. It is smaller than most smartphones and only requires the user to blow for 5 seconds. It is designed with law enforcement officers in mind, using the same Xtend fuel cell sensor technology as the professionals to deliver similar results.
- Only takes 10 seconds to provide a reading
- Uses the same technology as professionals
- One button operation
- Bright LCD screen
- Not as accurate as other devices
Shaboo Prints Breathalyzer
Easy To Read
Considering that this has one of the fastest responses in a breathalyzer, this is also one of the most reasonably priced. It is also compact, fits into a pocket or car glove compartment with ease. Included are 5 replaceable mouthpieces to ensure it can be used safely by different people.
The device takes 15 seconds to warm up and when it is ready, only 3-5 seconds of blowing is required for reading. The results stay on the LCD screen for 20 seconds and feature different symbols depending on the reading such as caution and danger. Although it doesn’t come with the 2 x AAA batteries needed for it to work, these are readily available and easy to replace.
- Comes with replaceable mouthpieces
- Warms up in 15 seconds
- Useful symbols as well as the readings
- Doesn’t come with batteries
Best For Storing Readings
Ideal for personal use, this breathalyzer comes with 5 replaceable mouthpieces. It takes measurements in various units to ensure it can be used anywhere in the world accurately and keeps up to 32 previous readings. A reading only requires 5-6 seconds of blowing and every time the batteries are replaced it should work for up to 200 tests.
For accurate results, it is best used 20 minutes after the last alcoholic beverage and should be used at least 3 minutes after the last test. Results stay on screen for 15 seconds and on top of this, it is easy to use, portable, and reasonably priced making it a great option for anyone looking to drive when it is safe.
- Comes with 5 replacement mouthpieces
- Stores 32 previous readings
- Results stay on screen for 15 seconds
- Other products are more accurate
Breathalyzer Buyers Guide
Safety behind the wheel is paramount and drinking and driving should never be combined. This is why it is always good to have a breathalyzer to hand. Not only are many of the compact and convenient, but they can use the same technology as law enforcement. To be honest, this is only the case with certain brands, so it is important to know what to look for.
To make sure you are driving when it is safe, and are not going to compromise the safety of you and your passengers and others, we have created the following buyer’s guide.
What To Look For In A Breathalyzer
Above all else, the device needs to be reliable and work when you need it to. The better products are accurate and use similar or the same technology as professionals. This being said, any breathalyzer using semiconductor technology should be avoided as they are not reliable in the same way.
This starts with the warm-up time for the device which should be up to 20 seconds for most reliable brands. Then, the time it requires for the user to blow should be no longer than 5-6 seconds as not everyone can blow for much longer. Then, there is the waiting for the results. All in all, the whole process should be finished within a minute.
After this, the time the results stay on screen can be important and most will stay there for at least 15 seconds.
Easy To Read Display
The LCD screen needs to be easy to read but also give additional information. Having 4 digits in a readout is going to go a long way towards knowing if it is safe to drive or not.
Convenience is key as it is best to be able to store the breathalyzer in a bag or glove compartment of a vehicle. There are some that double up as key chains which means they have to be small. Most brands make sure their product does not measure more than a typical smartphone, with many being much smaller.
For additional readings and information, it can be better to purchase a breathalyzer that is compatible with a smartphone. This can give estimates as to when the BAC level will reach zero among other useful information.
The number of mouthpieces is more important than ever with hygiene being at the forefront of many people’s minds. Most are wrapped and sealed so whoever is using the breathalyzer can do so in the confidence that it is safe to do so. Many can be used more than once to ensure that it can be used whenever it is needed.
As with any piece of technology, it is always best to protect your purchase. Most brands tend to offer a year which can be enough to get some good use and piece of mind.
What Is A Fuel Cell Breathalyzer?
Using electrical current to measure the alcohol levels once detected, these are some of the most popular. Used by law enforcement officials around the world, fuel cell analyzers measure the number of electrons produced, and the more they are, the greater the electrical current will be.
Because they do not require a lot of power to work, this approach can be used time and again without draining batteries. They are favored because they are affordable and accurate but do require the user to wait at least 20 minutes after their last drink as they are not as accurate at retrieving readings from deep in the lungs.
How Accurate Are Personal Breathalyzers?
This very much depends on the device as there is a difference in quality. The first thing to look for is the type of technology used with fuel cell being the most preferable and semiconductor being the least reliable. Some have the backing of law enforcement which is always a good sign – look for these and reputable brands.
How Often Do Breathalyzers Need To Be Calibrated?
Most will arrive calibrated and ready to go but it is a prudent idea to re-calibrate every 12 months. For this to be done, the breathalyzer will need to be sent to the manufacturer directly and most brands will provide information on the frequency and where to send it.
Are Breathalyzers Any Good?
With a reliable product, yes they are good. The alternative is not driving after any alcoholic beverages to stay on the safe side. For many people, convenience is a major plus point, but reliable products work for many years, providing numerous accurate readings.
What Are The Benefits Of Using A Breathalyzer?
We’ve mentioned the convenience, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. The extensive benefits include the fact that they can save lives, preventing someone from getting behind the wheel when they are not sober. Also, it can stop a driver from losing their license, or facing a hefty fine. These fines start in the hundreds but can reach the thousands in certain circumstances.
The other benefits include their accuracy as trying to work out alcohol levels based on units consumed is not a reliable way of judging sobriety. Everyone is different and there are numerous factors that come into how alcohol is absorbed.
What Is The Best Breathalyzer?
After reviewing numerous products, we found the best available to be BACtrack S80 Breathalyzer. It is a professional grade product that only takes 10 seconds to deliver results after the user has blown for 5 seconds. It is also one of the most accurate, using fuel cell technology. We like that it is DOT approved in 50 states and has a solid reputation for being one of the more reliable personal breathalyzers on the market.
How Much Does A Personal Breathalyzer Cost?
The short answer is – not as much as a fine for drink driving. Most reputable brands are available for well under $150. There are products under $50 but this is where it is important to do more research into the technology used and reputation of the brand.