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So I’ve seen a fair few ads recently by a comany called AlcoSpot for coin-operated breath-testing devices, designed for use in clubs and bars.  In fact, we have been approached several times by people wanting us to come in on the ‘latest new thing’.  But in every instance, the thought process proceeds as follows:

In principle, a good idea.  But a few queries come into mind.  Like, what happens when a bunch of REALLY drunk guys get together and decide to see who can blow the highest reading by swigging a mouthful of whiskey directly before blowing into the machine?  So knocking the calibration for anyone who may wish to ACTUALLY check their levels before deciding whether or not to call a taxi… 

Who is responsible for making sure the machine is accurate?  And when it isn’t, and something happens, and the family left behind want to take the matter further – who assumes that responsibility?

How would it stop a person leaving a club after a positive reading convinced they know better (a common problem with the use of a breathalyzer – although generally people tend ot OVER estimate their alcohol levels) – in short, how is it more than just a bar-takings gimmick?

I’d love to know what the score is with calibrating the unit.  We turnover probably a couple of hundred of calibrations a month, and know how easily the sensors get knocked.  Even the Draeger UK Home Office Approved devices (which can just about cope with nuclear fallout) would struggle to keep accurate when under fire from a stag party.   Which begs the question:  Why would you have a device when you know it CANNOT remain accurate?  And what are the consequences of such, should the worst happen?

This all sounds very pessimistic, and hopefully these devices are taken for what they truly are – the toilet vending machines of a bar (albeit without the luminous condoms…) – a gimmick, that should NOT be taken seriously.  But the scary thing is, I bet most people believe them and the claims they make regarding accuracy (none of which I could find… plenty on how to ‘customise’ your unit though.  Helpful. )  They do suggest that calibration should take place every 6 months.  All I can say is, the bars these machines are in cannot sell much alcohol.  Or maybe they do it differently in Slovakia (although their reputation suggests otherwise!).


Could we really replace the human element of breath testing?
Could we really replace the human element of breath testing?

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