Avoiding a DUI: Are portable breathalyzers accurate?

Reporter: Lauren Sweeney
Published: Updated:

For people who want to avoid a DUI, are portable breathalyzers accurate enough to use when deciding if you can drive? WINK News puts them to the test.

Testing for accuracy

WINK News looked online and purchased three different portable breathalyzers for $50 or less. The BACtrack Go Keychain Breathalyzer, the JASTEK model JS0048 and the OASSER T2 Professional Alcohol Tester.

Two servers and one patron at the Nevermind Awesome Bar and Eatery in Cape Coral, agreed to help us put our breathalyzers to the test. With the help of Cape Coral Sergeant James Cason, each person was tested using a police-certified breathalyzer, along with the three devices we purchased.

Each of the three people waited 20 minutes after consuming different amounts of alcohol before blowing into the devices.

“There is a going to come a point when you’ve consumed alcoholic beverages where you hit a peak and then you will start to come back down,” explained Sgt. Cason. “So it all depends on when you stop drinking.”

Test Results

Police Device – .082
BACtrack keychain – .09
Oasser – .076
Jastek – .05

Police Device – .103
BACtrack keychain – .09
Oasser – .112
Jastek – .05

Police Device – .025
BACtrack keychain – .03
Oasser – .021
Jastek – .00

Manufacturer Statements

All of the products we tested came with instruction manuals that had the same warning and guidance we heard from the Cape Coral Police, “do not drink and drive.”

The user manual for the Jastek device that underestimated everyone’s BAC was confusing. Jastek responded to our email with the following message:

Thanks very much for your kind message; our breathalyzer is adjustable based on different states’ regulations and if you do not adjust the standard value, the testing alarm value will be the factory default one.

WINK News could not locate anything in the manual about state regulations, and Jastek did not respond to a follow up question.

Oasser emailed that is ‘reasonable for small differences’ between their T2 device and a police breathalyzer. A spokesperson also sent the following precautions:

1. The alcohol concentration (BAC) in the blood may change in a few minutes.
2. To ensure the accuracy of the results:
After the last drink, please wait for 15 minutes and then check your alcohol level
Please replace the new nozzle once per test
Rinsing the mouth and smoking can also affect the test results
With the proper instructions steps, the tester will offer alert when the result exceeds the level.

BACtrack which makes the keychain sent WINK News this statement:

BACtrack is dedicated to providing the most accurate, reliable, and affordable breathalyzers, and we’re pleased to see the BACtrack deliver results consistent with the police units.

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