In this age of advertising, most of us have learned to be pretty savvy when it comes to marketing claims. We can confidently pick out the small-font warnings that 'Results may not be typical' and know that anytime an ad says 'may', 'might' or 'could', it usually means 'doesn't'.
However, when it comes to unfamiliar technology like alcohol breath testers, the claims can be a little more difficult to assess. This is why so many thousands of cheap and highly unreliable and inaccurate breathalysers have been sold throughout the world. Today we show you how to pick through the marketing claims on alcohol breath testers to ensure that you’re getting what you expect.
Australian Standards Compliance
This is one of the gold standards in identifying quality alcohol breath testers. The relevant Australian Standard for alcohol breath testers is AS3547. Any unit used in a workplace or law enforcement situation must comply with this standard; if you're buying a breathalyser for personal use it is advisable to get an AS3547 compliant unit to ensure that you don't get any nasty surprises on the road.
Accuracy Better Than +/- 10%
This sounds like quite a large range; however, differences in body fat percentage, the cellular composition of blood, whether you wear dentures or have a reflux problem and how recently you took a sip can all confound a reading. AS3547 requires accuracy better than +/- 10%; mistrust any marketing claim that states their alcohol breath tester is completely accurate.
Fuel Cell Technology
While there are some semiconductor-driven alcohol breath testers that comply with Australian Standards, that those detect with fuel cell technology are far more accurate over the long term.
Blow into/Speak into Alcohol Breath Testers
Good alcohol breath testers give you the option of blowing into a unit or speaking into it; however the passive or speaking alcohol breath testers give a less accurate result. A quality breathalyser will give you only a Pass/Fail result when spoken into.
Three Decimal Place Readings
Many alcohol breath testers offer readings to three decimal places, While this is certainly handy for gauging exactly where your BAC is when it is read from a quality machine, if the alcohol sensor or sensor type is substandard, it is quite possible that all three of those decimal places show an incorrect BAC reading. The ability to show three decimal places is not necessarily a guarantee of quality.
If you purchase an alcohol breath tester from overseas, it may have received FDA clearance. This is NOT a guarantee of effectiveness, only of safety.