In the last blog, we learned about how the sensor inside a breathalyzer works i.e how a fuel or a semiconductor cell uses the alcohol to generate an electrical charge, which is measured to find out how much alcohol is in the breath – based on how much electricity was generated. We also discussed how the size and type of cell can affect the accuracy.
With this information in mind, a good question to ask when looking at buying a breathalyzer is what type of sensor it has. Cheap breathalyzers often don’t specify their sensor type which can actually be quite dangerous as it can lead to the assumption they are accurate. Unbelievably, many of them having an accuracy of plus or minus 80% – if indeed they can measure alcohol at all. To put this into ‘real world’ as an example, let’s say you have 35µg/100ml of alcohol in your breath. Now – if you measured yourself with an accurate breathalyzer you would know that you are at the point of losing your licence (in England & Wales. In Scotland or Ireland you are already 1.5 times the legal limit). With a cheap, potentially ‘fake’ breathalyzer, your reading could be anywhere between 7µg/100ml and 57µg/100ml. How are you supposed to trust if you are under the limit?
What makes these breathalyzers so inaccurate is how easily affected they are by outside influence. So things like ambient air temperature, how much breath you blow, how long or strong the breath sample is – even whether they are able to measure alcohol at all – all affect the readings. So even taking a few tests in a row and working out the average can’t give you a reliable result.
How do you know whether the breathalyzer is real or fake?
First of all, don’t purchase an unbranded breathalyzer. ALL breathalyzers should be tested under strict laboratory conditions prior to sale, especially when we consider what they are measuring. Merchants or marketplaces of unbranded breathalyzers do not have these facilities – they have no way of testing or checking accuracy, therefore the units are unlikely to be calibrated by the seller before they dispatch them to you.
Purchase from recognised company websites or authorised retailers. Would you buy an airbag from a street vendor? I seriously hope not. But this is the same. Breathalyzers are there to protect you. They not only protect you from the law but are there to make sure you don’t put yourself in danger.
Here at AlcoDigital we have the benefit of manufacturer training, with trained staff using authorised diagnostics systems to calibrate the breathalyzers we sell. We know the accuracy of the breathalyzers we supply – because we’ve independently checked them. All our product pages show the accuracy of our breathalyzers, so you know exactly what you are getting when you purchase from us.
Check out the link below to see how accurate our workplace breathalyzers are.
We aren’t the only ones who are concerned about fake breathalyzers. Check out the BBC report below.
Check out this link for a video from “Fake Breathalyzers”