We’ve all been there – except my mate Albert, who doesn’t drink. Am I safe?
Am I legal? How much is okay? How would I know? I suppose I’m okay. Am I really? Damn, if only I had one of those breathalyser gizmos. Are they any good though?
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is just that – the level of alcohol in the blood – and ultimately it can only really be determined by a blood test. The time-consuming logistics of those tests means that law enforcement agencies, hospitals, and first responders, all need another method, one that is portable, convenient, and accurate.
BAC devices measure indirectly by measuring the alcohol content in your breath.
There are 2 types of BAC devices:
· Semiconductor sensors
· Fuel cell sensors
Semiconductor sensors are smaller and cheaper, but are less stable over time, which means more frequent calibration is required, and they are less accurate, generally to +/- 0.01% BAC. That means an indicated reading of 0.03 may actually be 0.02 to 0.04.
Fuel cell sensors are more expensive, and for good reason. They are more stable over time and are far more accurate. In the case of the S80, BACtrack quotes an accuracy of 0.005% at the 0.05% level. It is for this reason that law enforcement agencies and so on, all use fuel cell sensors – they are what the pros use.
The BACtrack S80 is a smart piece of kit, measuring 4.8” X 2.3” X 0.8” (5.8 X 12.2 X 2.2 cm) and a very manageable 4.8oz (136 gms) including batteries and mouthpiece. Small enough to pop into your bag or shirt pocket.
It runs on 2 AA batteries, and the manual says they are good for 1500 tests, so battery life is not an issue here. However, you don’t have to wonder about – the unit has a battery indicator, and you should replace the batteries when it is down to 1 bar. Good thinking BACtrack.
Warm-up time, depending upon last use, is 10–30 seconds, and response time is 3 seconds. Easy peasy.
What’s in the box?
· Padded carrying pouch
· Instruction manual
· 2 X AA batteries
· 6 reusable mouth pieces.
· BACtrack S80 unit
How do I use it?
· Don’t eat, drink, or smoke for 20 minutes prior to use
· Place a fresh and clean mouthpiece in position
· Switch on the unit and wait for the count-down timer to reach zero
· Blow gently into the mouthpiece until the beeping stops
· Look at your BAC reading
It’s easy to set different units of measurement, and to set individual user BAC ranges.
What’s this recalibration thing all about?
This is a smart bit of gear, and as with all breathalysers, it needs to be used properly and kept in tune. BACtrack themselves handle recalibration for units in the North American arena, while, for example, Australian owners can utilise the services of Breathalyser Australia. There is a cost involved, as a guide – about USD 25 in the USA, and AUD 55 in Australia. The recommended frequency is after 200 uses or 6 to 12 months, whichever comes first.
Our Final Opinion on this Gadget
Remember, this outstanding unit doesn’t replace common sense and responsibility. If you have the slightest doubt about whether you should be driving, then don’t, irrespective of the reading.
BACtrack have thought of everything with this top-quality unit, and we highly recommend it.
BACtrack S80 – peace of mind in your pocket.
Two things – the reading will be inaccurate – you may damage the sensor.
The user manual specifies that the readings cannot be used in court.