Consumer breathalyzers are a double edged sword. On the one hand they can save you from dying. That’s sort of a big deal. On the other, less responsible hand, they lend themselves to binge drinking. Case in point, one of my friends had a breathalyzer when I was just a wee young collegiate Boozist, and we broke it out during football pre-game parties to keep track of how drunk people were getting. Why? Because an hour before kickoff we’d announce who blew the highest and bestow upon them a bottle of champagne. If that’s not degeneracy, I don’t know what is.
The grown-up-ish version of me was much more responsible with the new Alcomate Revo ($250) and AL2500 ($60) breathalyzers I was sent to test out. There was no race to the top of the drunken Aggro Crag, just periodic checking to see how my BAV was progressing. I put them to use during a Turquoise Jeep concert, for which drinking is imperative, and during St. Paddy’s Day in Chicago. Needless to say they were definitely put through their paces.
Here’s the thing: you can’t consume anything for 20 minutes if you want get an accurate reading. No booze. No water. No Werthers Originals. That obviously hampers how useful it is while you’re out drinking, but cab rides between bars served as perfect check points for me. Getting readings was ridiculously easy. Just turn it on, wait 20ish seconds for cheap version or 4 seconds for the Revo, and blow. There’s a little hole in the front of the AL2500 while the Revo has a disposable bit that goes in the side. Sanitation. I like that. I did have to convince other people to blow like they meant it though, but that’s because I’m pretty sure they were trying to “beat the breathalyzer.”
The accuracy is entirely dependent on if you followed the one simple direction – don’t consume anything. I just took a sip of beer, my first of the day, and immediately blew a .345. That’s brain damage territory, and while I’m not claiming to be without brain damage, the 1 ounce of Coors Light I just consumed did not contribute to it. Meanwhile, while out and about back on St. Paddy’s Day, the numbers were always right where I expected them to be based on a my experience as professional imbiber. Obviously there’s no way to prove that it was perfect, but it damn sure felt like it.
Again, the waiting period for an accurate reading is a detriment, but if you’re trying to decide whether you’re good to drive home or not, waiting an extra 20 minutes probably isn’t the worst thing you could do. That said, Alcomate specifically says not to use this to determine if it’s legal for you to drive. I would imagine that’s for liability reasons considering that’s the only legitimate reason to own a breathalyzer. I’ll follow their lead though and say, don’t base your decision to drive on anything I’ve ever written.
If you’re trying to see who’s the drunkest at a party, these will definitely get the job done for you. Just be sure you give that boozist some water or perhaps an IV.
In terms of which breathalyzer was better, the Revo by a landslide. It was small (4 x 2x 0.6 in), accurate, and it has a replaceable sensor so you can just swap it out instead of having to send your breathalyzer in to be recalibrated. Yes, that’s why the one you used for a year straight kept telling you that you were hammered when you woke up.
Speaking of which, kudos to my friends who got married this weekend. I woke up and blew a 0.027. And yes, that’s with a fresh sensor.
It takes hard work to be awesome, but sometimes you just wake up that way. pic.twitter.com/wNahsbFqwU
— Boozist (@Boozist) May 23, 2015