In a world where police are becoming much stricter with blood alcohol levels, it can be extremely useful to be able to test your own blood alcohol levels before driving. While I don’t condone have a couple of pints then driving, it is very easy to go on a big night out then be over the limit still in the morning. Being able to test yourself prior to driving could save you a lot of trouble.
The issues are especially true for anyone that drives away from their own country. I personally have no idea about what’s allowed in any country, and only a rough idea of our own. So, for example, you are allowed a BAC level of 0.08% in the UK. This is one of the highest levels in Europe and even the world. France and multiple European countries have levels set to 0.05% which is a over a third less than the UK. However, if you go to Hungary, Slovakia, or the Czech Republic you could easily be caught out with a zero rating.
With the AlcoSense pro, you don’t just get your blood alcohol reading, but it will let you know if you are specifically over the limit for the country you are in. The built-in memory has limits for every country in the world, so no matter where you are you can make sure you are safe to drive.
The AlcoSense Pro uses a 121mm² fuel-cell sensor, which is the same sort of technology you will find most law enforcement agencies use. Most police use a sensor that is 200mm2 in comparison, however as long as you are not too close to the limit you should be quite safe using this.
The AlcoSense Pro features an advanced sampling system to ensure that only deep lung air (the most accurate part of the breath) is measured. It uses advanced sensors to measure the blow pressure, flow rate and volume of breath exhaled and takes a reading when 1 litre of air has been exhaled, ensuring the most accurate sample is always taken. To improve accuracy even further, readings are fine-tuned according to temperature.
Using the AlcoSense is extremely straight forward, once you insert the batteries and switch it on you just have to go through a basic set up procedure setting the data, time and your country. When you want to test yourself, you slide down the front panel and insert the mouth piece. You then have to wait for the unit to be ready, which is just a few seconds. Then gently blow into the tube, the unit shows the pressure level of your breath and advises you if you are blowing too hard. Ideally, you should keep the pressure level the same. After a few seconds, the bar will fill up and you just wait for your results, which takes another couple of seconds.
The results are displayed on a coloured background, with green being safe to drive, yellow up to 80% of your limit and red not safe. If it detects any alcohol in your breath it gives you an approximate time to sober up.
I used to be a very heavy drinker, and I always used to be curious how bad my BAC levels would get. Nowadays I barely drink, but I tried it out one weekend evening when I was having a day off being healthy. I drank 3 bottles of Warsteiner which is 4.8%, 2 were 500ml and 1 was 660ml over the course of 4 hours. This totals just under 8 units of alcohol, which by the definition of the NHS is binge drinking. Over the course of four hours, my liver would have processed around 3 units of alcohol (very rough estimate).
My results were quite surprising for me. Pre-drinks the unit said less than 0.2% with a low or no alcohol reading. Shortly after 1 drink, it showed 0.25%, after the second it jumped to 0.53% which is still safe. However, around 40 mins after my 3rd drink I dropped back down to 0.25%. So, in theory, it could have been safe for me to drive after 3 strong beers (not that I would, I don’t even have a licence).
I would have expected I would be over the limit after my second beer, so to not get close after any of them was a massive surprise. There are obviously a few factors that might affect this, I was eating throughout the whole process which may slow down absorption. I am a 6’1 male around 190lbs and relatively lean. Presumably, my liver is quite healthy too, so it is quite likely that I process alcohol a bit faster than the average person.
The concern here is that some people may use a device like this immediately after drinking to see if it is OK to drive. This may be legally perfectly fine to do, but I am not sure I would agree with that attitude. I have no problem with someone having one beer with a meal then driving but any more should be avoided in my opinion.
Where I think this device is very useful, and a responsible way of using it, is to test yourself in the morning. It is all too easy to have a heavy night then drive somewhere the next day feeling rough, and most people will have no idea if they are within the limits. This is a common issue over the Christmas period with people getting caught out.
I am very curious to try this out during a heavier drinking session, but at the moment I have none planned, and I am not going to get blind drunk just for the sake of a review! I do have plans in August and if I remember I will amend this review with some more drunken results.
This is a bit of a niche device, at £150 it is very expensive but it is also one of the most accurate devices on the market and offers worldwide readings. So, if you drive in foreign countries a lot, or perhaps if your livelihood is dependent on your driving licence then this could be a very wise investment.