Do off-the-shelf personal breathalysers actually work? Drinkaware gives a definitive answer

While a personal breathalyser can be useful for information purposes, the results should not be taken as a clear indication that you are under the limit. There is still a potential chance that you will be over the limit if stopped at an official Gardaí checkpoint.

Leitrim Observer Reporter

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Leitrim Observer Reporter

Do home alcohol breathalysers work? We get the answer from Drinkaware

Do home alcohol breathalysers work? We get the answer from Drinkaware

Drinkaware is today responding to a sharp rise in queries from members of the public about the use of off-the-shelf personal breathalysers to detect alcohol. The national not-for-profit organisation has also seen an increase in queries relating to confusion around the length of time it takes to process alcohol and driving the day after consuming alcohol. This is in light of increased nationwide early morning roadside checks by An Garda Síochána.

Drinkaware is reminding anyone who intends to drive the day after drinking alcohol that:

- The time of your last drink at night will affect when it is safe for you to drive the following day, so there could still be alcohol in your system the morning after drinking.
- It takes your body one hour to process one standard drink and there’s no quick fix. Common examples of one standard drink include a half pint of beer, stout or lager / small glass of wine (100ml) / pub measure of spirits (35.5ml). So effectively, if you have three pints, on average it will take at least 6 hours for your body to process this alcohol.
- There is nothing you can do to remove alcohol from your body any quicker, only time. Common myths are that drinking coffee or having a shower will sober you up but these are simply not true.
- Any amount of alcohol will affect your ability to drive safely. 88% of Irish adults agree with this statement (Drinkaware Barometer, 2017). There is no way around this; it is a scientific fact.

Speaking on the need to address concerns raised, Drinkaware CEO, Sheena Horgan, said: “The reality is that these off-the-shelf breathalysers are not developed using the same medical and safety technology standards as those used by officials like An Garda Síochána.

"This is a relatively new and unregulated space. Our advice echoes that of the Road Safety Authority, that we would have serious concerns about the validity of the results. While a personal breathalyser can be useful for information purposes, the results should not be taken as a clear indication that you are under the limit. There is still a potential chance that you will be over the limit if stopped at an official Gardaí checkpoint.

With almost 1,000 arrests for drink driving over the Christmas period, it’s clear that people are still taking the risk the following day. If you have even the slightest doubt that you are over the limit, there should be no justification for driving the morning after. Remember, the minimum penalty for drink driving is now a three month driving ban so the risk is simply not worth it. We all must play an active role in keeping our roads safe.”