AlcoSense Excel digital breathalyser is put to the test

The AlcoSense Excel reusable home digital breathalyser
The AlcoSense Excel reusable home digital breathalyser

If you have any sense at all, you’ll never mix drinking and driving, but no matter how conscientious you are, there will always be the odd moment when you’re not sure if you’re over the limit.

A recent analysis of car insurance quotes suggests that roofers have a higher rate of drink and drug driving convictions, than any other occupation. According to the analysis, which was carried out by MoneySuperMarket on over six million car insurance quotes between November 1, 2017, and October 31, 2018, roofers were ranked sixth with 4.42 drink drive convictions for every 1,000 drivers. Only plumbers, scaffolders, ground workers, builders’ labourers and mature students living at home have higher conviction rates.

Nearly a fifth of drink-drive convictions are ‘the morning after’, so it may be that roofers are being unwittingly caught-out as they drive to an early morning job.

But how do you know? if you don’t want to risk taking to the roads before you’re legal to drive, then the AlcoSense Excel personal breathalyser could be for you. Using a 64mm2 version of exactly the same fuel cell sensor used in several UK police breathalysers (200mm2), the gloss-white hand-held AlcoSense Excel costs £99.99.

Straightforward to operate, the breathalyser can be set up for use in different countries with different drink-drive limits, and is designed to give accurate, trustworthy readings, with a 0.15% margin for error. For the UK, it’s already pre-programmed with the different limits for Scotland and England/Wales/Northern Ireland. If you’re travelling abroad, three simple steps will calibrate it for local limits wherever you are.

What do you get?

In the box is the unit itself, three AAA batteries, five disposable mouthpieces, a USB cable for installing software updates and an instruction manual.

Initial set-up is easy – switch it on, enter the current date and time and set the limit for your home country. The limits for England, Scotland and Ireland are displayed on the screen for easy set-up.

After that, a short warm-up timer begins, and warning messages are shown. Then a mouthpiece can be inserted. Follow the instructions and after a few seconds of breathing out, the device will then show the blood alcohol concentration.

The Alcosense Excel senses the volume of breath exhaled during the test and takes a reading after 1.2 litres of air – ensuring an accurate and consistent sample is always taken.

Easy-to-read on-screen prompts coach you on how to, and when to, stop blowing. If you make a mistake, it tells you that too. And if you’re using your breathalyser in low light, there is a light to ensure you put the blow tube into the machine correctly.

To improve accuracy further, readings are fine-tuned according to temperature, so the AlcoSense Excel will compensate to ensure the correct reading.

The screen lights up red (you’re over the limit), amber (alcohol has been detected but below the limit) or green (the reading is very low), depending on whether the pre-selected limit has been exceeded, and will clearly alert you not to drive if you are close to or over the limit. Simple to use and fairly fool-proof, it’s worth bearing in mind the fact that blood alcohol levels change quickly in the 90 minutes after drinking.

That means you might blow under the limit and, later on, your blood alcohol levels may have risen over the limit – so leave some time after drinking before using the breathalyser. Or better yet, don’t drink at all if you’re planning to drive!

If you travel to a different country, then programming the new limit is simple from the settings menu and takes a few seconds. You can also change the display from Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) to mg/l of breath, plus there is a display for 24 previous breath test results.

Alcosense says the Excel is accurate to within 0.15% when displaying BAC – so there is a small margin for error. That means erring on the side of caution is a good idea when looking at the results of a test.

The Alcosense Excel is manufactured under ISO13485, the benchmark in medical quality systems. While the price tag of £99.99 might seem steep compared with single-use devices, the AlcoSense Excel offers far greater accuracy and can be used again and again, handy for anyone who drives for a living. It can also be updated via a computer and recalibrated to ensure it stays accurate, giving it real longevity.

https://alcosense.co.uk/