Archive for the ‘ Breathalyzer Reviews ’ Category

Personal breathalyzers clear the air

It’s not often that you need to get drunk for a story.

But hey, how else are you going to test one of the personal breathalyzers that are part of a growing $20 million industry?

Over the past two years, several handheld devices have been introduced to the market and are being used as screening tools by parents to test their kids, employers to check workers using heavy equipment, high school personnel to test students at proms, football games and other functions, and by regular consumers to monitor their drinking.

They’re designed to measure the concentration of alcohol in the human breath, which indicates how much is in the bloodstream. Prices range from $10 for small keychain models to $250, although accuracy varies widely. Results are not admissible in court.

Most consumer models use a semiconductor sensor to detect alcohol, which is less sophisticated technology than what is used in professional devices used by police.

The personal breathalyzers, like the $79.99 BACtrack B70 by KHN Solutions Inc. of San Francisco that I tested, are more practical as screening devices. To get an accurate reading you need to wait 20 minutes after drinking, eating or smoking before blowing into the device. And the manual emphasizes that users not use the BACtrack as a tool to determine whether you should operate a motor vehicle or equipment or perform any other dangerous act.

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A Car That Combats Drunk Driving

Japanese carmaker Nissan is developing a new car with breathalyzer-like detection systems to help stop drinking and driving.

Nissan’s alcohol-detection sensors check odor, sweat and driver alertness to keep the alcohol-impaired off the road.

Odor sensors on the driver and passenger seats read alcohol levels, issuing a voice alert on the navigation system and locking up the ignition if needed.

Another high-sensitivity alcohol sensor in the gear shift knob measures perspiration on the driver’s palm when trying to start the car.

Nissan technology chief Kazuhiro Doi says the car is still in development, but a facial monitoring system will also keep an eye on who’s behind the wheel.

[Kazuhiro Doi, General Manager Technology, Nissan Motors]:

“We’ve placed odor-detectors in the car and sweat-sensor on the gear shift, but in addition to these, for example if the gear shift sensor was bypassed by a passenger using it instead of the driver, the facial recognition system would act as a back up.”

A mounted camera monitors driver alertness by an eye scan, responding with bells and a voice message if it’s time to pull over and have a rest.

The driver’s seatbelt will also tighten to gain immediate attention, while an on-road failsafe is a sensor that monitors if a car is wobbling out of its lane.

Warnings and lockdowns come in English as well as Japanese.

Nissan intends to drive this technology to global markets in the next few years, looking to reduce the number of fatalities in its automobiles by half by 2015.

Can A Personal Breathalyzer Save Your Life?

Brian Thomas and Lauren Sonkin met us at Tulene’s South Side Saloon in Johnstown to put the BacTrac Personal Breathalyzer to the test. We asked them how they know when to stop drinking. Thomas said, “I just drink until I feel like I reached my limit, then I stop.” Sonkin said, “I just basically feel it out. If I feel like I’m losing control of myself or I’m not thinking straight, then I’ve probably had too much to drive.”

Both also travel in groups of friends that have a designated driver or call a cab. They agreed the BacTrac personal Breathalyzer would be very useful. Sgt. John Herdman of the Richland Police Department helped administer the test. “We give a series of field sobriety tests. The last test we give is the breathalyzer and we use that as a pass-fail type thing.”

Both Breathalyzers work the same way, but the personal one doesn’t have a mouthpiece. Sonkin drank two cranberry and vodkas over an hour and a half. Thomas drank three beers in an hour. With the personal Breathalyzer Sonkin blew a 0.02 percent and Thomas blew a 0.11. The legal limit in Pennsylvania is 0.08. Herdman had Thomas and Sonkin blow into his police-issued Breathalyzer. Sonkin blew a 0.03. “That’s pretty close,” Herdman said. It was Thomas’ turn; he blew a 0.045. “That’s a big difference, ” Herdman said.

Brian used the personal Breathalyzer again and blew a more accurate reading of 0.07.”Any type of personal breathalyzer you use is going to be a different reading than an actual Breathalyzer or blood test,” Herdman said. “If you see that you’re over the limit are you going to say, ‘Hey, I need to get somebody to drive me home,’ or are you going to say, ‘Well, they might be wrong. I’m going to drive anyhow.”

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First look - BACTRACK personal breathalyzer

The BACTRACK is a very sharp-looking personal breathalyzer, one of the newest models available. Full operational review will come soon, but for now take a look at these features:

-No mouthpiece required
-Inverse LCD Display — White digits on a black background make test results easy to view in daylight and at night
-Accuracy to +/- 0.01 %BAC from 0.00 - 0.40 %BAC

Pictures speak for themselves:
<BACTRACK breathalyzer<BACTRACK breathalizer

I recently had the opportunity to check out the AlcoHawk Pro. It’s a full-featured alcohol tester and works well. Included with the AlcoHawk Pro is everything you could need to test friends and family, or even use in certain professional settings. Approved as a DOT / NHTSA alcohol screening device (that’s a good approval to have, in my estimation), the AlcoHawk includes a carrying case, battery, 50 reusable mouthpieces and a 12V car adapter. Well, isn’t that handy?

It’s a sharp-looking, streamlined device that’s fits very comfortably in the user’s hand. The bright display is clear in both full-light and low-light settings. Testing is simple - power on the unit (there’s only one button - duh!), wait 20 seconds as the tester warms up, blow a strong breath for 5 seconds, and wait a few more seconds for your result. On a recent Saturday night, I had two beers over 40 minutes or so, waited 20 minutes as indicated by the instructions (so that no alcohol residue in my saliva would affect the test result) and took a test. My result - 0.04 %BAC, which is right in line with where it should have been, considering my consumption. Several friends tried the AlcoHawk Pro as well, and it’s results seemed to be dead-on.

One caveat - when testing multiple subjects, be aware that this tester requires a 2-minute cooldown period between tests. The AlcoHawk Pro includes several cool features - FlowCheck alerts you if the subject didn’t blow a strong enough breath, Sensor Recognition (SR) tells you if your tester is not working properly and requires service.

All in all, the AlcoHawk Pro is a well-equipped, accurate and good-looking device. Price is reasonable at $139.95.
AlcoHawk Pro Breathalyzer