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Are store-bought breathalyzers accurate?

by in BAC

It’s not a bad idea to buy an alcohol breath tester—more commonly known as a Breathalyzer—to have for your own personal use. They can be a great tool for everyone, not just police.

Because a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) varies based on so many different factors (i.e. weight, muscle mass, recently consumed food, etc.), it’s hard for people to really ever truly know just how much alcohol is affecting their bodies on any given occasion.

That sounds all fine and dandy and it seems that owning a Breathalyzer can be a wise decision. In fact, owning a Breathalyzer may land you the MVP title because everyone will come to you and want to test their BAC levels before deciding to drive or catch a ride home.

So it seems like a no-brainer to have this device as an efficient and smart way to measure your BAC levels, but you want to know if consumer models are accurate and reliable.

While breathalyzers have certain levels of accuracy, they are generally not accepted as a completely accurate way of measuring a person’s blood alcohol content. Therefore, trust should not be placed in any Breathalyzer that a person is below any legal limit, or is “sober.” Breathalyzers can be misused, misread, and miscalibrated—consumer models as well as the ‘more professional ones’ police use.

Develop realistic expectations about the accuracy of breathalyzers and from there, determine whether purchasing one is still something you feel is a wise move.

Breath Machine

Flickr User: Morgan.Davis

Depending on how much you plan to rely on a Breathalyzer and how accurate you want it to be, you can decide to purchase an inexpensive Breathalyzer, or a more expensive model. You may find that a cheap Breathalyzer, with a higher tolerance of error suits your needs. The least expensive breathalyzers start at around seventy dollars. There are more expensive breathalyzers available, with a greater degree of accuracy. More expensive breathalyzers analyze the breath sample more thoroughly, and usually have more advanced sensors. These breathalyzers cost anywhere between 120 to 200 dollars or more.

If you decide you want to purchase one, a good place to start looking at breathalyzers is www.breathalyzer.net. Many of the models sold there have been FDA approved, are DOT-approved and many law enforcement agencies use these testers for preliminary screening of DUI suspects. These breathalyzers offer many benefits, including low cost, low power consumption and small size.

This post was intended to provide general information only and is not intended as specific legal advice. You should not rely upon this information alone, but should consult legal counsel regarding the application of the laws and regulations discussed and as applied to your specific case or circumstance.