The best breathalysers to keep you safe and legal when driving

We all know the dangers of drink driving. Make sure you're safe with a handy breathalyser.

A man using a breathalyser

by Ryan Gilmore |

First things first - the only safe amount of alcohol to consume before driving is no alcohol at all. Get a taxi instead for total peace of mind.

However, now a visit to your favourite local pub for a pint, glass of wine, scotch egg or simply a good chat with friends is back on the cards, it's more important than ever to remember the dangers of drinking and driving.

Driving with alcohol in your system can easily end in a crash that could injure or kill you, your passengers or pedestrians. A drink driving conviction can cause issues with travel visas, cost you your job, or at the very least result in a ban and your insurance skyrocketing.

A domestic breathalyser is a clever solution. Keep in in your car's glovebox and you'll be able to check whether you're fit and legal to drive if you're even in the slightest doubt.

In short, if you consume alcohol and have a driving licence, buy one of these gadgets and keep it in your car.

AlcoSense Pro Fuel Cell Breathalyser

Alcosense Pro Fuel Cell Breathalyser

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Our top pick for breathalysers

Our top pick for breathalysers is this one from Alcosense. It thoroughly impressed us with its design and quality, making it the perfect tool to use after enjoying a drink. It features a Blowcoach to ensure you get accurate results, has a temperature sensor and will warn you when the sensor needs recalibrating. We've tested this model in a lab and the accuracy is excellent. It is also country configurable and even gives you a timer until you're sober.

AlcoSense Lite 2 Breathalyzer

AlcoSense Lite 2 Breathalyzer

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Brilliant work on a budget

A budget option for a digital breathalyser, the Alcosense Lite 2 uses a more basic sensor than other Alcosense models, but it will still give accurate results. While it may lack the same features as more expensive options, it will still give accurate results for English, Irish and Scottish testing. It is also fantastically made and very easy to use.

AlcoSense French NF Certified Breathalyzers for France

AlcoSense French NF Certified Breathalyzers for France

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Best disposable option

These disposable breathalysers are NF approved meaning they can be used when driving in France (a legal requirement). While they don't offer the same features as other brands, for single-use testing they can't be beaten.

What you need to know about breathalysers:

Does quality matter?

When it comes to breathalysers, cheap ones will simply be rubbish. We did an investigation into cheap breathalysers more than 10 years ago and sadly nothing has changed. Websites are littered with cheap breathalysers that claim to be industry-leading but offer the accuracy of a drunkard trying to get their key in the front door. Not only is this annoying, but if you incorrectly blew legal into your breathalyser and then get pulled over by the police, you could get done for drink-driving even if you thought you were fine.

There are good disposable examples that are cheap but these are one-time use products. With anything you want to use more than once it's better to spend a bit more and look for one that will be accurate and reliable over time.

A timer is a helpful option that some of the more premium examples offer. It will set an alarm that will notify you when you're (in theory) sober. Perfect if you enjoy one too many the night before.

Alcohol readings are also dependant on different factors including temperature, how deeply you breathe and how different countries process the data to get results. The best (and more expensive) breathalysers will factor these all in to get a more accurate result.

Is there any way of knowing a good quality breathalyser?

There is no standard body in the UK that can make finding a quality example a real pain unless you own a professional laboratory. The only EU country that has a standardised testing facility is France so look for breathalysers that come with NF approval (French Standard). These will be accurate

Also, be careful of models that claim they are police-grade and other such buzzwords, they are literally meaningless. Extreme examples include one cheap breathalyser that claimed to use police-grade equipment, by which it meant it used the same screws to hold it all together.


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