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Are personal breathalysers accurate and are they the only way to beat an alcohol test?

Can you beat alcohol testing?

It’s an age old question with no easy answer: Can you beat alcohol testing if you’re over the limit?

As we’ve looked at before in our blogs, there are a number of ways that reputedly can help you pass alcohol testing. These range from special mouthwash (regular mouthwash that contains alcohol can actually make the reading higher), gums and sprays, to taking a cold shower and drinking lots of caffeine. However, to set the record straight, there is no way to beat alcohol testing. You’re either over the limit or you’re not, and nothing apart from time will help you pass an alcohol test if you’ve already drunk too much alcohol.

So, then the question is, how can I tell if I am over the limit? There are online calculators you can use to get a reasonable guide on what your blood alcohol level is likely to be (for example, see Health Engine) and then of course there are personal breathalysers.

Coincidently, I regularly get an email with the subject: 5 reasons personal breathalysers save lives. The email goes on to say that every two minutes a person is injured in a motor vehicle accident involving alcohol and that around 5000 people under the age of 21 are killed in Australia while driving under the influence.

Wow, strong stuff. Fortunately, however, it’s far from the truth. For a start, last year alone there were 1146 deaths on our nations road, far from the 5000 stated above, and that just included young people under the influence. That doesn’t, however, mean that alcohol on our roads isn’t an issue. Many people are still caught in alcohol testing across Australia and every year many people die due to the actions of drivers over the limit.

So, perhaps a personal breathalyser isn’t such a bad idea, although I certainly wouldn’t buy the one mentioned in the email above. If they can’t even remotely get their facts right, how good is their breathalyzer likely to be? Therein lies the issue with personal breathalysers. If you purchase a cheap or disreputable one (they start from as little as $20) you might as well ask the drunk person beside you if you’re right to drive!

There are essentially two types of personal breathalysers you can purchase. The first is called a semiconductor breathalyser and the second a fuel cell breathalyser. While both use similar methods to check for blood alcohol level, the semiconductor breathalysers, which are cheaper, are not very accurate. And over time their accuracy will diminish. The fuel cell breathalysers are better and are more accurate – they’re the ones used by Integrity Sampling and the police to conduct alcohol testing – but these are also not 100% accurate and the accuracy will reduce over time. This is why our breathalysers are calibrated regularly and we only rely on them for initial results.

So, if you really want to purchase a personal breathalyser to help you determine if you’ll pass alcohol testing and will be safe to drive, our recommendation would be to spend a bit more and buy a fuel cell breathalyser. We sell one of the best on the market, the Drager Alcotest 3820, so contact Integrity Sampling to find out more. Also, remember to have it recalibrated regularly and only use it as a guide.

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Are personal breathalysers accurate and are they the only way to beat an alcohol test?

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Michael

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Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Thomastown and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs.You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

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