Top 7 Breathalyzers For Tailgate Parties

Nobody wants to get stung with a DUI after a really fun tailgate party.  You might not be falling-down drunk but, if you’re over the limit, you can’t be out on the roads behind the wheel.

Smart folk – whether hosts or guests – have a Breathalyzer with a heap of individually wrapped mouthpieces on hand.  This way, drinkers can make sure that they are OK for driving.   It’s good to test that level with more than the ‘walk a straight line’ or balance test.

Generally speaking, the Breathalyzers on the market for home use are accurate in a wide range.  They are not ‘legally’ accurate.  A note of caution, nearly all require a re-calibration to set them to be closer to giving a realistic read, at least every year, but if you are blowing these above the recommended level (and that varies for every model) you should send it back to the maker more regularly.  Read the instructions, and don’t depend on solely on them to tell you whether or not you should drive.  Note that an hour after stopping drinking, your blood alcohol level continues to rise.  So re-test.  And those old myths about how masking your breath with a packet of mintie flavored candies will reduce the reading is dangerous.  The boost of sugar to your blood can give you a false ‘high’ and you’ll be fine for a moment or two, but it will have no affect of actually lowering the BAC. (Blood alcohol content).

In the available Breathalyzers, there are basically two types of sensors -semiconductor-based or fuel cell-based. The semiconductor-based are the least expensive and are generally inconsistent and not meant to be exact (in a legal reading sense). The fuel cell-based models are more costly but provide accurate and consistent results.

Here are some of the best Breathalyzers we found from each of the two models, ranging from the ‘pro’ styles to the simpler (and less accurate) often key-ring gadgets.

BACtrack Select S80 Breathalyzer Professional Edition

BACtrack Select S80 Breathalyzer Professional Edition

BACtrack S80 Breathalyzer

Highly rated by many users and buyers, the plastic bodied BACTRACK Select S80 uses fuel cell sensor technology (similar to that used by law enforcement officers in the field).

It features a one button operation which allows users to press the power and begin testing in seconds.  The 4 digit LCD displays accurate test results in extended format. The pack (6 x 4 x 2 inches) comes already packed in its own case, instructions, 6 mouthpieces and a zippered pocket for stashing some spare mouthpieces and batteries.

It’s a good idea to have those additional supplies on hand, depending on how many guests you are expecting.  It’s battery operated (always bring a spare).  The reading should take place 20 minutes or more after the last drink or food have been consumed – any earlier, and the reading won’t mean a thing. Provides enhanced linear accuracy and extended battery life.  It is designed for continuous temperature checking, user-adjustable warning levels, and internal pump system for breath capture.

Requires annual return to the company for calibration (or 200 – 300 tests) which is an additional $20 plus shipping.

Full instructions should be read and retained.
Testers should take a deep breath before blowing (just as the police will tell you when testing on the road).  Then wait for 10 seconds for the display to show up.

Cheaper to buy this than paying a fine, gaining demerits, risking jail or probation and safer than being in an accident and causing harm.

If you are worried about its accuracy, check it on a non-drinker and then on someone who is patently drunk and you will see the difference.

Small enough to be portable but gutsy enough to be accurate and will give you confidence in its performance.  Not much bigger than a phone.  Keeps a tally of tests completed (so that you can be sure that re-calibration happens in a timely fashion.

Always reset to zero before using. Note that blowing a low reading is not a license to drink more and then go and drive.  Drinking and driving is not cool.  There’s always someone you can rope in to be the designated driver.

BACtrack Keychain Breathalyzer, Portable Keyring Breath Alcohol Detector – The KC 10.

BACtrack Keychain Breathalyzer

BACtrack Keychain Breathalyzer

These small keychain models are cheap and there’s a reason for that.  They are not as accurate as the sensor type and many comparison tests have been done.  It requires a few AAA batteries but it does give a rough indication of BAC which will warn you not to drive.  To give you any reading at all, it does need live, fresh batteries and they only last for 50 or so blows.  If you can get a reliable rechargeable battery, use those or it will be costing a lot. Be sure to turn it off in between drinking bouts! Conserve the battery life.  It does have an auto cut-off switch but I never trust those.

Full instructions should be read.

Leave enough time between tests for the machine to charge up again.

Note that your BAC will vary according to your size.

As with other breathalyzers, wait the required 20 minutes (no food, no booze) before testing.

This little model – semi-conductor based – needs to be returned to the company every 6 months for calibration.  But if you are using it a heap and sharing it, you should send it more often.  Just use common sense.

It’s not perfect but it is extremely inexpensive and can be used as a guide only and again, not a legally accurate measurement.

Alcohawk Slim Digital Breathalyzer

Alcohawk Slim Digital Breathalyzer

Alcohawk Slim Digital Breathalyzer

One-button, quick operation, small enough to keep in the glove box, handbag BBQ tool box, or tailgate party kit, this is the cheaper version of the Alcohawk range. It uses semiconductor technology as is the case with all these smaller models.  Its electronic airflow sensor is designed to harvest a deep lung sample for testing and it measures the BAC within a range of 0.000 – 0.400%.  Calibrated for accuracy.  2 digit display.  Wait 20 minutes as with any Breathalyzer.

Starter calibration is a little slow to show up (60 seconds) and then you need to wait up to 3 minutes to blow, having taken a deep breath. The wait for another 10 seconds for the result.   It works, just takes a bit of time.

You can clean out the mouthpieces and re-use them.

Readings are accurate, but you just need to have a bit of patience.

Fits easily in your pocket to take to that tailgate party with you.


AlcoHawk Pro: Professional Edition Digital Breathalyzer

AlcoHawk Pro: Professional Edition Digital Breathalyzer

AlcoHawk Pro: Digital Breathalyzer

Here’s the big brother of the Slimline.  It includes 5 mouthpieces, carrying case,wrist-strap for portability, 9 Volt battery, DC car adapter (Plug) , instructions, zipper bag with space for additional batteries and gear making it travel friendly. Uses semiconductor oxide sensor.  LED display is easy to read.

Single button operation, it features FlowCheck breath monitoring system for max accuracy and is used in lots of pro situations: police, clinics, schools, concerned parents, employers and tailgate party animals.  It is one of the few approved by DOT/NHTSA and FDA.

Follow the instructions and this will be really useful and is small enough to keep near you at a tailgate party without becoming annoying.

Battery life is impressive.  The sensor is accurate if the directions are followed.

BACtrack Element Professional Digital Breathalyzer with Fuel Cell Technology

BACtrack Element Professional Digital Breathalyzer with Fuel Cell Technology

BACtrack Element Digital Breathalyzer

The Element uses xtend fuel cell sensor technology for trusted, accurate results and the process is fast taking only 10 seconds to get a result.  Again, it is important to read the instructions before using for the first time. Educate your tailgate party guests on how to make it work.  For instance, wait the 20 minutes after eating/drinking, take a deep slow breath and exhale (process is assisted by the revolutionary air pump design).  This is claimed to be the smallest and simplest full-feature fuel cell Breathalayzer in the world.  Very portable.

Calibration is important and costs $20 a go plus shipping and if you use this for all your guests at the tailgate party, you could easily rack up a heap of blows, **  requiring annual – or more often – returning to the makers.  It is still cheaper than a DUI.  Don’t think you can avoid this step!  Do count your tests and keep an accurate list FYI.

** (around 75 tests according to some users, but 400-500 uses are claimed by BACtrack who say frequent use is advised to keep the sensor moist so don’t keep it packed away, take it out and use it every few days even if not drinking. Take it to your tailgate friends and test it on your friends.)

Note that Breathalyzers are an indication only.  For an accurate BAC you need a blood test.  Even the patrol car testing kits are just the ‘entry point’ to further checks of your sobriety or otherwise.

Takes 2 AAA batteries (supplies).

The Element has been tested by the DOT/NHTSA (Department of Transportation/National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and meets their requirements for a breath alcohol screening device. And because the Element has also received FDA 510(k) pre-marketing clearance, it is available for personal, consumer use as well.

The company BACtrack is seen as authorities in the field of Breathalyzers and the gadgets have starred on CSI:Miami, The Doctors, Dr. Phil, MythBusters and Ask Oprah’s All Stars.

SVAT AL100 Breathalyzer Personal Digital Breath Alcohol Tester Detector Analyzer

SVAT AL100 Breathalyzer Personal Digital Breath Alcohol Tester Detector Analyzer

SVAT AL100 Breathalyzer

This is a small model, more for fun than accuracy, cheap though.  At a tailgate party, or wherever good beers are being enjoyed, I would pay the dollars and get a fuel cell model instead.

Its pros are that it is lightweight, compact and cheap, easy to use and handy in the car.

Its cons are that it is not accurate according to a number of users and really can only be used to give you some indication of the wide range of your BAC.

Considering that such an important issue is being measured, a better model is warranted.

Alcomate AL9000 AccuCell Breathalyzer

Alcomate AL9000 AccuCell Breathalyzer

Alcomate AL9000 AccuCell Breathalyzer

The AL9000 is top of the range of these portable units, using the more durable, reliable and scientifically accurate fuel cell technology (electrochemical).

It’s DOT approved with high degree of accuracy.  It features an easily read, large, 4-digit decimal display, deep-lung air sampling with the pump mechanism to assist that process fast, it beeps to let you know when it is ready at each stage and also indicates when the battery is low.  That is a handy feature.

The results are consistent and accurate and a recommended additional use would be if your job required random breath testing, you could test yourself first and go and hide out in the restrooms till you sober up.

But me, I just like to have one of these in my tailgate kit, test any driving guests and hide their car-keys if they blow a high number.

Drinking games and consumption of BBQ and beers are such a fun part of tailgate parties that is comforting to have one of these on hand to be 100% sure that your guests will be safe on the way home.  Anywhere there is a beer-bong, there should be an Alcomate AL9000!



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