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Most Accurate Breathalyzer To Buy

WHY WE LIKE IT: Like the BACtrack S80, the BACtrack Trace Breathalyzer utilizes highly accurate police-grade technology (approved by DOT and NHTSA), but it comes in a smaller portable size that makes it more pocket friendly than our #1 pick.

most accurate breathalyzer to buy

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This BACtrack trace professional model runs on two AAA batteries, so when it starts losing power, you can quickly and easily replace them and get your breathalyzer back up and running without the need for charging. This and the best car battery charger will help keep you out of trouble.

The Rofeer Digital Portable Breathalyzer boasts a user-friendly one button start in a compact design. After powering on the device and waiting at least 15 seconds (the same warm-up period as several others on this list), the breathalyzer is ready to use.

WHY WE LIKE IT: The JASTEK Breathalyzer takes the guesswork out of making responsible decisions by flashing and beeping when your BAC is too high. It makes the breathalyzer a good choice for those who need a little more help interpreting safe BAC levels.

Unlike others on the list, the JASTEK can also adjust to 6 different units of measure for various geographical areas, including the US, Europe and Asia. Keep in mind that there is a small warm-up period required in order to get accurate readings. The manufacturer recommends waiting 15 seconds after turning the unit on before trying to measure your BAC level. It is one of the best car accessories you can have.

We listed only breathalyzers that were highly accurate due to advanced, professional-grade technology that could give you consistent reading over time (some are even DOT or NHTSA certified). We also focused on ease of use and how the BAC information was transmitted. Some of the breathalyzers display test results on their own screen, while others transmit the information to your smartphone via a dedicated app.

We also considered battery life, which is vital when working with any type of technology. While most of the breathalyzers on the list run on replaceable batteries (AA and AAA), there is some that include a rechargeable battery too.

The last thing we looked at was any additional features that could help make your life easier and safer, like Bluetooth compatibility and the ability for the breathalyzer to call an Uber for you if your BAC registered too high to drive.

Because the most important feature of a breathalyzer is an accurate reading, I tested six devices against various sobriety levels to see how easy each one was to use and how accurate the BAC was. At the end of this guide, I go into more detail on how I tested the devices, as well as what to look for when buying one and FAQs like how you use a breathalyzer and who breathalyzers might not test accurately for.

Our tests found the BACtrack Trace to deliver readings as precise as the more expensive, high-accuracy breathalyzers. It takes about 11 seconds to prepare for use once you turn it on, and it delivers results within just a few seconds as well, so you won't be stuck staring at the screen for long. At $100, it's a great value for the price.

The only real drawback is that the breathalyzer needs to be sent in for calibration every 6 to 12 months to maintain accuracy, depending on how frequently you use it, but this is true of virtually all breathalyzers so we can't really count it against the Trace.

Proof that price doesn't always reflect quality, the AlcoHAWK is a fraction of the cost of competing products but, based on my testing, delivers similar accuracy and reliability as the professional-grade breathalyzers I tried. If you're interested in having a breathalyzer on hand for the random afternoon wine tasting or dinner party, this is the one to get.

If you're using a breathalyzer as a parent or school administrator, this is the one you should invest in for the sake of being as fair as possible. Plus, it's quick: The device warms up in under 15 seconds and gives you your reading within 3 seconds, which can be helpful if you're testing several people.

This gadget doesn't have a display, so you do need the app to use it and see your results. If you don't have a smartphone or don't want to rely on one, this device is not the one for you. Note that also means if your phone is dead, you can't use the breathalyzer.

Based on our tests, this device is also highly accurate and comparable to other BACtrack models. And the Mobile is considerably smaller than most of the other breathalyzers on this list, which can be convenient for slipping into a purse or pocket.

Also convenient is the fact that the C6 warms up quickly, in just about five seconds. And being one of the cheaper products we tested, it's good value for the money. The trade-off is that the C6 isn't quite as accurate as the more professional devices, but the difference is marginal and unlikely to change anything in practice.

I then evaluated the data to see if any outlier readings were statistically significant. The products we deemed most accurate and reliable were those with the fewest anomalous readings and most consistency with other devices.

Note: Despite drinking the same, standardized amount for Test 1 and Test 2, my BAC reading was different between the days. This could be from a variety of factors, like what I ate and how long beforehand. What's important is comparing Test 1's tests among the different breathalyzer, and seeing if those discrepancies were repeated with the same brand on Test 2.

There are only a handful of companies that make breathalyzers for the general public (which is why we include multiple devices by BACtrack) but even so, the products on the market have some significant differences. When buying a personal breathalyzer, consider:

Price: The cheapest product we tried was about $40 and the most expensive $131. Generally, the more expensive breathalyzers do tend to be more accurate and reliable, but you don't need the same level of detail for recreational use as, say, a police officer would. If your reading is at all borderline or uncertain, you can always just wait a little longer and test yourself again later.

Accuracy and reliability: Virtually all major breathalyzer manufacturers claim "professional" or "police-grade" accuracy, so it can be difficult to determine which devices actually deliver on that claim. Since accuracy is crucial in staying safe behind the wheel, we conducted trials to test the accuracy of each device so that we can tell you which ones live up to their price tag. And we found price does not denote reliability.

Result readability: Some breathalyzers will display your BAC right on the device, while others have an optional or mandatory Bluetooth smartphone connection. The latter can be useful if you want to store your results in a log. But if you don't have or don't want to use a smartphone, skip this feature and be sure to get a standalone device.

Calibration and charging: Most breathalyzers need to be sent back to the manufacturer for calibration after 6-12 months in order for the device to continue to read BAC levels accurately. If you'd rather replace the sensor yourself, pick a model for which that's possible. Also, note what kind of batteries the device takes and if it's rechargeable or not.

In addition to research, for this article we spoke with Dr. Shannon Sovndal, MD, FACEPS, who is a board-certified doctor in emergency medicine and emergency medical services (EMS) in Boulder, CO. He is a fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians and has worked extensively in pre-hospital medicine, the fire service, and tactical medicine. He is currently the medical director for multiple EMS agencies and is the author of three books including his most recent "Fragile."

For decades, there was no consensus over how much alcohol constituted impairment. Many states had legal limits as high as 0.15 BAC well after the breathalyzer was invented by a former state trooper in 1953. Only in the 1980s, after strong efforts by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, did most states lower their limits to 0.08. In 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) urged all 50 states to cut the limit further to 0.05. So far, Utah has done that and other states are considering it. Law enforcement in every state has made it clear: They can and will cite drivers with BACs under the threshold they believe are impaired.

The Rofeer digital breathalyzer needs only 15 seconds of warmup time to be ready for the test and delivers results in even less time. The display shows not only a digital readout of the BAC, but the results are color-coded (green/yellow/red). It comes with five washable mouthpiece

The Alcomate AL 7000 is another law enforcement-grade breathalyzer and claims to be approved by the Department of Transportation and the U.S. Coast Guard. It features a user-replaceable sensor module which eliminates the need to return the unit to the manufacturer.

In order to determine the best breathalyzers we considered the products most accessible to the widest swath of consumers in the U.S., which also includes performance, price and value. We also considered a broad range of end-user ratings and evaluations by multiple testers.

"Our ER uses BACtrack breathalyzers to quickly administer a BAC test for incoming patients in emergency situations, where a blood test would simply take too long. Sometimes you need to know right away, and this helps us accomplish that."

BACtrack pro-grade breathalyzers use a sensor we created by adapting a technology that was originally created to determine the mixture of alcohol required for a hybrid fuel used by experimental military vehicles. We redesigned this technology into our proprietary Xtend Fuel Cell Sensor technology that sets BACtrack apart from the rest, allowing us to deliver the most accurate and consistent BAC results.

All pro-grade breathalyzers use a miniature solenoid air pump to collect a user's best breath sample. The better the sample, the more accurate the reading. During use, you can actually feel the click of the pump collecting the breath sample from deep in your lungs and at the end of your exhale for a more precise reading. 041b061a72


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