back to article El Reg tests portable breathalyzers: Getting drunk so you don't have to

Celebrating Christmas and the New Year is traditional in many cultures and, humans being what they are, usually involves the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol. Of course, that consumption comes with a cost. The liver, which processes over 90 per cent of booze consumed, can take a hit from a heavy session. Plenty of …

  1. Ketlan
    Happy

    Hic...sorry.

    Easy answer: drink at home. In secret.

    1. leexgx

      tests

      when doing the tests you should wait until 30 minutes have passed so you not get an accurate result and you brake the Breathalyzer tester due to moisture (as you did nearly twice)

      the police must wait 30 minutes so the alcohol can clear the mouth of excess boos

  2. PleebSmash
    Pint

    cheap fun BAC readers too inaccurate

    Can't wait until you can put a microgram of nanobots in your drink and get real time BAC streamed to your smartphone (or Dick Tracy watch, or Google Beer Goggles).

    1. scrubber

      Re: cheap fun BAC readers too inaccurate

      I want my nanobots to be able to soak up the alcohol on command so I can drive home from the pub, then release it back into my bloodstream when I am back home.

      1. PleebSmash

        Re: cheap fun BAC readers too inaccurate

        Cheaper might be time release alcohol-filled nanoparticles. Sprinkle them in a drink, wait HH:MM, go from 0 to 0.3 BAC in seconds.

        1. John Tserkezis

          Re: cheap fun BAC readers too inaccurate

          "Cheaper might be time release alcohol-filled nanoparticles."

          But ofisher, while I was as that bar, and then the other bar, I saw a man spike my alcoholic drink with, alcohol.

        2. Dr. Mouse

          Re: cheap fun BAC readers too inaccurate

          Cheaper might be time release alcohol-filled nanoparticles.

          I think the point would be that you actually get drunk at the pub, then activate the nanobots when you need to drive. They sober you up, you drive home, then can release the alcohol and get instantly drunk again.

          To be honest, I think taxis are a better idea. Drink what you want, and someone else drives you home. One very good idea, though, would be something you could ingest before you go to bed, which aids in clearing the alcohol from your system somehow. This could be by speeding up the bodies own systems to break it down, or some other method. I have no idea how (or if) this could be done...

          1. MrXavia

            Re: cheap fun BAC readers too inaccurate

            taxis are great, unless you live 20+ miles from town.....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Terminator

        Re: cheap fun BAC readers too inaccurate

        Maybe you can just get rid of the whole alcohol consumption middleman, and have nanobots injected into your bloodstream that attack your motor neurons brain centers responsible for inhibitions and judgment :)

        (Tough choice between beer and rise of the machines icons on this one)

  3. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Pint

    Changing times

    So Withnail's "I'm not drunk, I've only had a few ales" won't do any longer?

  4. Ole Juul

    Social drinking

    "both have Android and iOS smartphone apps that connect via Bluetooth."

    Presumably it automatically posts your score to Facebook and sends out a tweet.

    1. Buzzword

      Re: Social drinking

      Yeah, how drunk do you have to be before you want to share your blood alcohol level with the whole world? I can just see Google's advertising networks salivating over this: little AdSense boxes suggesting curry parlours at 11pm and detox clinics the morning after. I'd rather keep my drinking habits out of the hands of big advertisers, thank you very much.

      1. Robin

        Re: Social drinking

        I'd rather keep my drinking habits out of the hands of big advertisers, thank you very much.

        Either that's some great double-sarcasm, or you need to drink less. Or more.

  5. silent_count

    For later parts of testing, measured shots of 80 proof Jameson whiskey were used.

    Having determined that the Jameson wasn't quite doing the trick, the testers then moved on to shots of Bacardi 151. This produced some quite impressive scores on the breathalyser but still didn't satisfy the hacks in their headlong pursuit of El Reg's standards of journalistic excellence. So out came the Everclear. Sadly, very little can be reported beyond this point except for the 3am declaration that Reg HQ has seceded from mother England, is now an independent republic bereft of public nudity laws, and shall have a navy which consists of an aircraft carrier which launches double decker busses from it's flight deck. All hail emperor DrewC, the first of his name.

    In completely unrelated news, The Register is now taking applications for four vacant 'breathalyser tester' positions. Please submit your CVs to the usual suspects.

    ---

    On a more serious note, happy new year to all Reg staff and the commentards who make this site such an enjoyable and educational read.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Everclear. This is a thing that we can buy here at Vulture North. 95% ethanol. There is a bottle of it in front of me. 750ml. That's 710ish (allowing for some evaporation) ml of ethanol. I have pop in various flavours to mix it with. There are juices.

      But there is no rum.

      Why is the rum gone? Oh, yes...I drank the rum. LONG LIVE THE NIGHT TIME! THE NIGHT TIME IT A{PPPPOIH8ohewwer--------++++++++CARRIER LOST

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: +++CARRIER LOST

        What? You've barely been independent a few hours and already you've lost your carrier? Where are all the double deckers going to park now?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ Trevor

        We seldom agree Trevor but the love of rum transcends everything else.

        Invest in a small still (£200), chuck in some brown sugar and molasses and make your own rum. Its deceptively simple and works out at about £3 a litre....

        https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=7F3877C1DBFB2F81!18531&authkey=!AB7cFBh1oZ2YrV4&v=3&ithint=photo%2cjpg

        That's mine...

        Of course in Blighty you can only use it to distil water..

        (Yeah, whatever Came(mo)ron)

        1. I Am Spartacus

          @Cornz - Still

          You make rum by the milk barrel full? That is impressive. Can't wait for my son to get the wrong one when making coffee on his way to work!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Cornz - Still

            Not quite. Thats the boiler, a 10 gallon stainless steel milk urn with a retro fitted 2k2w Kettle element. That is filled with the fermented sugar and molasses wash and then (very lightly) refluxed in the copper column. The two things protruding from the top are the cooling hose connectors. The outlet pipe has been removed in that picture.

            Then boil her up, turn on the water, watch the 70% rum trickle out at about a litre every 15 mins.

            * A 10 gallon (10kg dark brown sugar and 5l of molasses) wash will produce a full gallon (UK) of 70% rum or 95% spirit.

            Just to do the maths on that. Thats 16 pints of 35% abv bloody good dark rum for about £30.

            *apparently as we all know the distilation of alcohol is illegal in the UK because our overlords believe that stills actually produce poisonous alcohol...

      3. hplasm
        Thumb Up

        Whys the rum ALWAYS gone?!?!

        Happy New Year to all and sundry!!

  6. Robert Helpmann??
    Joke

    Wrong Test

    Just take a couple shots and have some a blow!

    I thought they were just testing for alcohol!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK

    I was interested in buying one last year, thinking it would be nice if I could check the next day when I'm safe to go and get my car from the pub. I emailed the police asking for recommendations, thinking I was being incredibly sensible and they would probably have a ready response for saddos like me. They didn't.

    I was quite disappointed in the article, I was hoping a few models would be reviewed, but at $99, they are a bit steep ( that's what? 70 of the Queens finest English pounds? )

    1. Oz
      Holmes

      Re: UK

      The police probably didn't reply because, in all honesty, these sort of gadgets are not reliable enough to take at face value. Hampshire Police tweeted something to that effect a couple of weeks ago. They have been tweeting a unit chart instead which says how quickly units of each type and size of drink will take to be clear of your system. I know they err on the side of caution but it is pretty scary. As a rule of thumb go for 1 unit per hour and you should be fine

      1. Dr. Mouse

        Re: UK

        I've always been advised roughly 1 hour per unit consumed after you finish drinking. However, I did come across an (I think) Excel spreadsheet which calculated it all for you, given details about your drinks, timing, and your weight etc. It was very interesting, but I've not been able to find it again.

        I would not trust it, though. I would not normally drink heavily if I know I have to drive the next day, and have used a taxi to get to work before now when "a couple" turns into "stumble in at 2am with a kebab".

        Assuming you set off for work at 7am and finish drinking around midnight, I would stick to 2-3 pints at most. On 8 pints, finishing at 2am, you shouldn't expect to be fit to drive till the next evening. You may be fine sooner, but I wouldn't count on it.

        1. deadmonkey

          Re: UK

          Are you really a Doctor and therefore we should take what you say with some credence, or a numpty like the rest of us?

          1. deadmonkey

            Re: UK

            Don't bother answering, my question was answered by your other posts :P

          2. Dr. Mouse

            Re: UK

            Lol, no I'm not really a doctor. I'd love to get a PhD someday to make it true, but I'm just a lowly BEng.

            What I put is just my own opinion, and the guidelines I follow. In my younger days, I took the guidelines on face value and had a pint after work, driving home immediately. I am slim build and, looking back, I was unfit to drive. I would also go on heavy nights out, stopping at a friends house and driving home the next day. On several occasions I was unfit to drive then, too, although I never thought so at the time.

            Now I stick to soft drinks when I have to drive, and am careful about how much I drink if I have to drive the next day. I'm just glad that I did no harm back when I wasn't so careful.

  8. ravenviz Silver badge
    Boffin

    A lot more units out there

    The Alcosense Elite available in UK for £60 has a cleaning function where a small fan extracts moisture ready for the next use. They also do more budget models but without this function. Also it does not make judgements about your imminent demise, just whether you are over the limit, or not.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So really

    all you achieved was to highlight that both the units are shit.

    Water damage?? Inaccurate and contradictory readings...

    Waste of money IMHO. Want to drive safely? Don't drink!!!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So really

      OK, I've driven to the pub, drank a gallon of beer and got a taxi home.

      What point the next day am I safe to drive? It would be nice if you could buy a cheap unit to give you a vague idea of whether you're legal or not.

      1. Hellcat
        Coat

        Re: So really

        By the time you've cleaned up the bathroom and blamed it on the dog. Got a taxi or a lift to the pub. Remembered it was the other pub you drove to, and had to walk there because your lift drove off... Then you should be fine.

        That's when you realise you left your car keys in your other coat.

        Happy new year.

      2. Tim99 Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: So really

        >>==================> Approximately 2 standard drinks.

        OK, I've driven to the pub, drank a gallon of beer and got a taxi home.

        What point the next day am I safe to drive? It would be nice if you could buy a cheap unit to give you a vague idea of whether you're legal or not.

        A rough answer, assuming that you are sober enough to do the sums: A pint is roughly 2 standard drinks (Old Peculiar is more, boy's bitter is less). So your gallon is roughly 16 standard drinks. A standard drink is roughly equivalent to a 0.03% blood alcohol level if drunk by an average 11 stone man. The same man could metabolize alcohol at roughly 0.018% each hour. So if you drank your gallon over 4 hours you would be very roughly 16x.03 - 4x.018, say 0.4%. This is a level where people can die due to respiratory suppression... Assuming that you get home at midnight, and don't choke in your own vomit overnight, at 8:00am you are still likely to be at five times the 0.05 limit.

        In the real world there are a lot more variables. Women have proportionally more fat in their bodies, so their blood volume is generally less (as well as generally having lower levels of the enzyme that metabolizes alcohol). If your weight is 22 stone (and not mostly fat!) you can drink more.

        Generally people who drink regularly appear to be less drunk, but when analysed their blood alcohol limits are similar to people who drink less.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So really

          Interesting post, but to say 8 pints can kill you if drank over 4 hours? I'd be expecting a very mild hangover after drinking 8 pints at 4%. ( 17 stone, 5'10, bit of a belly but the rugby keeps me fairly fit ).

          1. Tim99 Silver badge

            Re: So really

            Generally, you will be OK. Multiply the numbers by roughly 2/3, but you will still be over the legal limit in the morning. In most social drinking you would eat something which will slow everything down. Younger drinkers tend to throw-up at least as much as they keep down. Potentially lethal levels start at ~0.25% - I have personal knowledge of people dying at that level, although usually after inhaling vomit.

            I know of one RTA fatality at 0.1% where an elderly woman was struck by a car. The driver was just under the limit, and the suggestion was that the pedestrian was drunk. However witnesses said that she had nursed her usual single pint of Mackeson before walking in front of the car. She only weighed 5 stone.

      3. Skier Boris

        Re: So really

        Yes I'd be more interested in something for use the morning after. Anyone tried those disposable units which were compulsory in France?

      4. Bilious

        Re: So really

        A reading of zero is likely to be reliable. Values around the legal limit are risky. You are then betting your driving license on full synchronisation of your instrument with those of the police.

        The gadgets to avoid are the ones with falsely low readings and high variability. I suppose package inserts and CE labelling are more reliable than the most recent publication from Vulture Alcotesting Lab.

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: So really

      "all you achieved was to highlight that both the units are shit."

      My good man, we all got plastered on company expenses, and highlighted both the units are shit. Living the dream.

      C.

      1. Florida1920
        Pint

        Re: So really

        My good man, we all got plastered on company expenses, and highlighted both the units are shit. Living the dream.

        AND you managed to BREAK a breathalyzer! Reg hacks rule!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So really

          You might not be unfit to drive because of your BAC, but you might still be unfit to drive because of a stinking hangover.

          Can you buy old police surplus breathalysers?

  10. imanidiot Silver badge

    Drink and drive, a simple rule:

    DON'T

    Had a drink? Just don't get behind the wheel of a car. Not even after just a single glass of wine. A great number of people are bad drivers at the best of times. Even a single unit of alcohol can make that tiny difference.

    1. Pen-y-gors

      Re: Drink and drive, a simple rule:

      Weeeell, yes and do....do you mean "Had a drink? Never, ever get behind the wheel of a car ever again?" Seems a bit extreme.

      The tricky bit is deciding if you had a drink or six some time ago, when is it safe to drive? Couple of pints at lunchtime - can you drive home after work at 7pm? 4 pints in the pub at night, are you safe in the morning?

      What would be really useful is a pocket gadget to answer that question, something that I'd assume these things do. But as the article states

      "...keen to stress that the results you get from their devices shouldn't be used to test whether you're safe to drive"

      one has to ask what the hell the point of them is?

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Drink and drive, a simple rule:

        Same rules I use when flying. 12 hours between bottle and throttle. Had a few too many and still hung over at that point. Add another 6.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Drink and drive, a simple rule:

          The mandatory breath test thingies in france have already proven to be as unreliable (at best) as the tested devices show.

          Seriously, anyone who disagrees with me, go seriously test the effects of even small amounts of alcohol on your reaction time, decision making and coordination. You'll find it'll have more effect than you suspect. There is only one rule you should follow, DON'T drink and drive. And if you DO drink, leave PLENTY of time between drinking and then driving.

          If you DO drink and drive you are willingly taking the decision to accept the increased risk you will kill someone.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Drink and drive, a simple rule:

            As someone who had a friend killed by a drunk driver, I can only agree with you. The words "driving" and "drinking" are incompatible. If you cannot exercise enough self control not to drink when you're driving, you can't sell to me that you're enough in control not to drink more and then still drive.

            It's an easy choice: drink OR drive. As soon as the two meet each other, personally, I think you should be done for a minimum of involuntary manslaughter if you hit someone - you made that choice when you got into the car. Oh, and try living with the fact that you killed someone - worse so if you drove others.

            The whole alcohol limit is not really there to give you an opportunity to have one, it is there as a tolerance level for substances that may affect the result. Just don't touch alcohol when you're driving, it's pretty much a binary choice.

            1. Dr. Mouse

              Re: Drink and drive, a simple rule:

              I think you should be done for a minimum of involuntary manslaughter if you hit someone - you made that choice when you got into the car.

              I would agree with this, in fact I would go a step further. I think it should be looked at in the same way as "felony murder" in the US: You made the decision to drive drunk, which is a crime. All consequences of that crime should be considered intentional. So if you kill someone, it should be murder. If you crash into another car, it should be treated the same as if you had set out and planned to ram your car into theirs.

              It could be taken a stage further than that, even, although I think this one probably goes too far. The fact you have driven drunk means you are accepting the possibility of killing someone, so it could be seen as attempted murder even if you are just pulled over by the cops.

            2. Bilious

              But what is "drinking"?

              Non-alcoholic beers may contain up to 0.7 percent alcohol by volume. One unit will not tip you over the legal limit - even a zero litit - because there is a safety margin included in police procedures. But if I drink one such unit at lunch, it affects my alertness a lot more than it would have if I drank that or a larger amount in the evening.

              Falling asleep at the wheel: Too risky compared to the pleasure of a (non-alcoholic) beer.

            3. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Vic
          Joke

          Re: Drink and drive, a simple rule:

          Same rules I use when flying. 12 hours between bottle and throttle

          Glider pilot, eh?

          Vic.

          1. imanidiot Silver badge

            Re: Drink and drive, a simple rule:

            Jup, so most of the time there is no throttle on the plane itself. There is however one on the winch that launches it.

    2. xyz

      Re: Drink and drive, a simple rule:

      You're behind the times and your world view is too small. It's compulsory to have one in a car in France (for example). I got the cheapos out of Halfords the other day (£4.99 or something) so if I get pulled going down the A75 I won't get a fine. I'm working on the principle that if I can find them in the glove compartment, I'm fit to drive. ;)

  11. chivo243 Silver badge
    Pint

    Product Placement!

    Gotta love the Anchor Steam prominently displayed! I think I remember popping out between classes in Chicago and picking up a few of those for lunch. Those were rosier times when worrying about how many you had wasn't connected with drunk how you are, but saving enough for some post pub grub.

    Happy New Year everyone!

    Have a pint!

  12. EddieD

    One further test...

    Try using one shortly after using mouthwash

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Scotland

    I sure the recently introduced reduced blood alcohol level just in time for the festive season and tonight's Mahogany celebration is as welcome as a turd in a swimming pool.

    I'm for a sensible BAC level which caters for some alcohol in the blood the morning after festivities. The people that need to be stopped are those who go out to flagrantly break the law and drive after they are inebriated. Lowering the levels won't have impact on these people's behaviour.

    1. EddieD

      Re: Scotland

      To be honest, as a resident, I don't think most folk mind too much - I think though that the French model, where lower levels of BAC are countered with points, a fine and a Road Safety course, rather than a blanket ban would have been preferred, but overall, I don't think folk see it as a problem.

      I won't be driving tomorrow :)

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Scotland

        the French model, where lower levels of BAC are countered with points, a fine and a Road Safety course, rather than a blanket ban would have been preferred

        Unfortunately that creates a culture where people think it's not a problem to get caught once, only the second time (when you'll get a ban) is "serious", so "one for the road" is still commonplace. It's one reason why the French death toll on the roads is twice the UK one, for the same population numbers.

        1. pierce
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Scotland

          what, you say the 2CV has nothing to do with that?

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: Scotland

            what, you say the 2CV has nothing to do with that?

            Haven't they all been crashed by now?

  14. Dominion

    Unless you're going to test these toys along side a device that is proven accurate - like the police ones that cost thousands, this is a complete waste of time. You've still got absolutely no clue whether the devices are in the least bit accurate.

  15. TheWeddingPhotographer

    Smartphones

    Well.. If they could stop you from bidding and and texting, whilst intoxicated.... that would be a bonus

  16. Adrian 4 Silver badge
    WTF?

    Where's part 2 ..

    with the teardowns ?

  17. M7S

    In the UK

    You should be asked the questions "have you had a (n alcoholic) drink in the past 20 minutes or a cigarette (to the best of my recollection) in the past two?". If the answer is yes then a period of time should be allowed to elapse before the roadside test is administered. If you've just left the pub it can be an uncomfortable period of time but it's there for a valid reason. The issue of "mouth alcohol" has long been recognised as distorting results, so this period of time is allowed as it is the concentration in your bloodstream, then exchanged into gas in the lungs, that is the factor regarding impairment. This may also be the procedure in the US (or parts thereof) but I have no knowledge of this.

    I'd also echo Dominion's caution against reliance on these devices if they're not regularly re-calibrated. Virtually all medical devices should be, down to the glucometers used in home testing, even the manual sphygmomanometer (spelling that could be a good test for impairment) in a first aid kit can easily go out of kilter.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: In the UK

      But the thing is I can down 4 pints in 5 minutes and drive home and get home before my blood stream starts to get illegal amounts of alcohol in it so that would indeed be an uncomfortable wait.

      This was tested using police breathalysers but without using a car around the time when they started the countback thing after an argument with a mate - took nearly 30 minutes to get to 80mg.

      I wouldn't try it and drive - could barely breathe standing up!

    2. Anonymous Coward 101

      Re: In the UK

      I was recently tested in Scotland, and was asked whether I had a drink in the previous 20 minutes, but not the cigarette question. Had three cans the previous night and the result was zero, so happy days!

  18. PaulR79
    Coat

    Disclaimer madness!

    "both manufacturers were keen to stress that the results you get from their devices shouldn't be used to test whether you're safe to drive."

    Oh right. These devices, that have only one purpose for existing, shouldn't be used to judge what they were made for ok? I know they can't replace equipment that costs thousands but come on. Isn't that like having a coffee cup with "hot beverage" marked on it? Oh.. America... gotcha

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE. Re. In the UK...

    I had an idea a while back to use flicker fusion as a dual function BAC and fatigue indicator.

    The trick here is to use two different colours on a diffuse RGB LED and release the button when they look the same, repeating the test with alternate colours and getting an average.

    Can be calibrated to alarm well before the legal limit and would show fatigue before it became dangerous.

    Turns out that driving while tired (cough shift work /cough) is equivalent to a BAC of over the legal breath limit (35mg) but this used to be hard to quantify using a roadside test.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: RE. Re. In the UK...

      For me the red and blue on an RGB LED separate even when I'm sober. Parallax effect through my glasses or something.

  20. DropBear
    Pint

    Agreed!

    "Having one beer and then waiting 20 minutes for the next one is not normal drinking behavior" - I absolutely, definitely NEED that on t-shirt. Those in agreement are welcome to upvote.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can think of a far better app which asks a few simple questions

    1 - Do you fancy a kebab?

    2 - Is it me or is this place full of incredibly attractive people?

    3 - Can you play pool like the ghost of Hurricane Higgins?

    If the answer to all 3 is 'Yes', you should probably catch the bus.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I can think of a far better app which asks a few simple questions

      1- Normally no, as the station I go home from has a Cornish pasty kiosk.

      2- Yes, even when sober, if it's an office party. The organisation I work for is mostly 20-something ladies apart from tech and back-office.

      3- No, but I'm happy to have a game anyway.

  22. Johnny Canuck

    drank a gallon of beer and got a taxi home

    But then the police came to get the driver's taxi back.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unfortunately...

    This is a true story.

    Chap comes into the Police station, I'm on bar duties. Says he was out last night and wanted to come in to get breathalysed before he drives to his sisters house down south.

    Very smart, I say, and I use the intoximeter which registers a fail. I tell him he's over the limit and he asks if he can leave his car in the carpark for a few hours then as he drove to the station to get breathalysed!

    *facepalm*

    The problem with this stuff is there are too many members of the public relying on these devices prior to getting into their car.

    It's not a defence in court and really, if you've got to that stage in life where you simply can't not drink if you know you're driving, you need to have a long chat with yourself.

    That's also why Hampshire police wouldn't have recommended a model - they would be putting themselves in the firing line for endorsing a product and also, if it failed and you got caught drunk driving.

    Meh.

    I'm on Shloer!

    1. DropBear
      Trollface

      Re: Unfortunately...

      Yeah, ok, fine, but who's on first?!?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple solution

    If you want an accurate reading if you are safe to drive, drive around and find a cop and ask them to check your BAC.

    They will be happy to let you know.

    {}}:>))

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To spit or swallow, the age old question.

    The moisture affecting the readings/operability of the devices is intriguing.

    Would the machine fail to make a reading if a quantity of spit was injected along with the breath ?

    How much spit would be required to consistently make breathlysers fail ?

    What would be the effects of a particularly viscous grebby ?

    Science demands answers.

  26. Muscleguy Silver badge
    Boffin

    Experiment stopped too soon.

    The real application of these devices is the morning after. Am I safe to drive after last night's session? When you are drinking it is fairly trivial to work out/remember if you have drunk enough to be illegal to drive. If you don't know that then it past time you worked it out. Most people here in Scotland where the limits have just dropped have done that.

    So do it again but give the previously inebriated hacks the devices to take home to see if they are legal to drive to the office (regardless of whether they do so or take some other transport option).

  27. Muscleguy Silver badge

    Additional

    Oh and back home in New Zealand they have just done what Scotland has done and lowered the limit. There the police have the power to randomly stop and test you. They set up what are optional road blocks where they wave you over to stop. They found lots of people over the limit the morning after.

    Unlike here in Scotland where our parliament has the power to change the limit but not the sanction, in NZ an interim sanction period is in effect for those caught over the new limit but under the old one. You get a fine and points but your license is not suspended. Once the new limits are bedded in this will change.

    But be aware if you come up here to Scotland and go on a wee bender. Driving the next morning might not be wise.

  28. Anonymous C0ward
    Pint

    The aim is, of course,

    to pass it round your mates and see who can beat the high score.

  29. Miss Config
    Big Brother

    Breathalysers in Pubs

    As someone who is technically spastic, I walk in such a way that the untrained observer could well

    think I'm drunk. There was even a pub once where the barmaid refused me entry as a 'previous' troublemaker. ( I have never been involved in trouble in any pub anywhere ever. )

    Obvious solution for any pub where they think I'm drunk is to give me a breathalyser. At least I START OUT sober.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Breathalysers in Pubs

      Then you publicly tweet about their disability discrimination and get Scope involved?

      1. Miss Config

        Re: Breathalysers in Pubs

        for the record I have never tweeted, full stop ( or used any other social meeja, for that matter ).

  30. Bob Dole (tm)

    About 20 years ago I did training and support for a breathalyzer device we had rolled out across the US. It didn't take long for me to lose count of the number of late night calls asking how to recalibrate them.

    That said, one interesting thing did come out of the experience. IF you are moron enough to go driving while under the influence, make sure you have an unopened bottle of something in the trunk. IF you have an accident, take out said bottle and have someone else break the seal, then chug it before the police arrive. They will never be able to prove that the alcohol in your system wasn't from that fresh bottle. You would also have a defense against open container laws.

    1. Dr. Mouse

      make sure you have an unopened bottle of something in the trunk

      I saw this one on CSI. Sara's dad, I think, was involved in an accident while over the limit, and she told him to find the nearest bar and down some shots. He would be able to say he drank because he was so shaken up, and the cops would not be able to prove he was drunk while driving.

      Of course, I certainly do not advocate this. Just don't drink and drive. I, personally, don't have any if I am driving, and drink conservatively if I have to drive the next morning. I would also have no problem reporting someone to the police if I was reasonably sure they had drunk too much and got in a car, even friends or family if I failed to convince them not to (including threatening to report them). Luckily I have very few friends or family who would be stupid enough, and have never had to do this.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    England and Wales

    As a police officer who has in the past 24 hours carried out station procedures (where you blow on the machine costing several thousand pounds) for two drink drivers (the last one was two hours ago, she is still in a cell sobering up), I can safely say that if you drink drive then you're an idiot and you deserve to get caught.

    Almost everyone I encounter is so pissed they should have known better. The limit is 35 microgrammes in 100 millilitres of breath in England and Wales. I have no idea what that equates to in American BAC numbers unfortunately but that is not an insignificant amount of alcohol. For most it's more than 'one too many', it's probably three or more alcoholic drinks. NB. if you do not tolerate alcohol well then even one strong alcoholic drink may take you over but for most the above holds true.

    Those who we catch routinely blow double or more (both tests were 100 or more). That equates to a very boozy night out. But even those who blow lower stand out like sore thumbs in terms of their driving abilities - they travel too slowly, too quickly, fail to stop for traffic signals, indicate pointlessly, brake pointlessly, cannot keep in lane on any kind of bend and not to mention that even one or two drinks will leave a smell of intoxicants on you for hours. They also have a tendency to panic when a police car pulls behind them.

    Here, the police need a reason to breathalyse you (if you have a crash, if you break the traffic law or if the officer suspects you have alcohol on you) but they can stop any car for any reason. This means they can stop you and see if there are grounds to breathalyse you but it's not an automatic right. This is what the police do routinely in the summer and during their Christmas drink drive campaigns and as a result of them, they catch loads of people out. The officers who decide which cars to stop are incredibly good at it and often get results, even on the 'morning after'.

    The morning after is tricky but you are all adults. If you're hanging out of your arse, you're unlikely to be fit by any stretch of the imagination but a rule of thumb is one drink (normal beer not double shots etc - call them two drinks) per hour AFTER you've stopped drinking. So if you've had eight bottles of beer and finish drinking at 2AM, go nowhere near a car until at least 10AM. Your mileage will vary significantly depending on what you've drank over what period and on other factors such as stomach contents, build, metabolism, genetics, sleep etc. If you pass out, alcohol in your stomach may continue to be absorbed into your blood after you wake up. My own rule is that I will never drink until after lunch after any kind of night at the pub. If it's anything heavier, I skip driving for the day.

    Most are not happy at getting caught drink driving but the fact is if you do it, you've only got yourself to blame and there is very little way out of the charges. The procedure is agreed nationally and has survived hundreds of appeals and loopholes, the machines have been proven reliable and accurate and most officers are incredibly good at following the procedure. Only if you're borderline do you have any hope of getting out of it (blood test being lost, coming back negative etc).

    I think it is absolutely right that drink drivers lose their licence for 18 months or more and get fined. It's definitely right that repeat offenders go to prison. Far too many accidents and fatalities occur due to drink drivers.

    For reference the police use devices such as those from Drager (costing over £700 each) for roadside tests. In my experience the results tend to be within ±10% of what the station machine reads. The boxes are calibrated monthly and are extremely reliable. I for one would not rely on one of the devices reviewed nor any kind of disposable test! If I had any doubt, I wouldn't drive but if I wanted such a device, there is no way I'd waste £100-200 on one of these, I'd shell out for something Home Office approved.

  32. Chz

    Are these certified for use?

    I'd love to get something for driving in countries (France being the primary example) where BAC testers are mandatory to carry in the car. But I also know that they need to be certified by the French authorities, and the last time I went into Halfords precisely none of the electronic ones were. Which makes me suspect that a French company makes the disposable, single-use ones.

  33. Yugguy

    Drive-Right pill

    Just invent one of those. Ask Mr DiGriz.

  34. Equals42

    We just need the damn Google self-driving cars to get here pronto and put this discussion to bed. I'm sick of seeing idiots texting in their car, reading the paper, or whatever. I'd love to have a few pints after work and be able to go home in my own car. Provided it drove itself.

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