Question about alcohol blood level breathalyzers for personal use.
Q: "I want to buy a personal alcohol blood level screening device for tailgate parties and home parties. I want to be able to serve alcoholic beverages and avoid problems with friends or family inadvertently driving under the influence. What units do you suggest? If someone "blows" a significant number on the breathalyzer and insists on driving, am I still liable?"-Tom
Answer: Please consult an attorney or law enforcement person in your state about liability issues related to alcohol you furnish to adults. Remember, criminal charges are filed every day for adults serving alcohol to minors and incarceration is not unusual.
The Alcohawk breathalyzer units we sell were originally developed after a University of Iowa law student interned with a DUI lawyer and realized that an affordable breathalyzer could help prevent persons from driving drunk. Do remember that alcohol levels can continue to rise even if the person blows a legal limit into an alcohol-screening device, eventually pushing alcohol levels over the legal limit. There are now some Alcohawk units that are DOD certified and used by law enforcement for helping to determine if a person is over the legal limit.
Currently, there are three main types of Alcohawks:
- Alcohawk 1: a single test unit that uses crystals to indicate the Blood Alcohol Concentration. These are inexpensive: better to buy a reusable one if you plan to screen multiple persons. Currently about $5 each.
- Alcohawk Elite, Precision and Slim: portable, reusable, extra mouth pieces available (mouthpieces can be sanitized). Prices range from about $60 to $125 at this time. Some are DOT (Department of Transportation) Conforming.
- Alcohawk PT500 Professional: visual and auditory alerts. About $200.
- Adjustable Blowing Time (Professional Kit Only): The AlcoHAWK PT500 is the first AlcoHAWK that allows to adjust the blowing time from 3 to 8 seconds. The blowing time may be adjusted for testing subjects with poor lung capacity, such as a smoker, or for testing subjects with a large lung capacity, such as a high-endurance runner. This makes the AlcoHAWK PT500 ideal for accurate and reliable testing of a variety of individuals.
- Easy-to-Read LCD Display: The AlcoHAWK PT500 offers a large, easy-to-read LCD display to make the unit the most informative and understandable AlcoHAWK Series product on the market.
- Pressure Scan Sensor: Ensures that the user blows with enough force to start a test and also ensures that they continue to blow through the unit throughout the entire test.
- Sensor Recognition Technology: This DOT/NHTSA conforming Breath Alcohol Screener uses new PT Core ™ Fuel-cell Sensor Technology which enhances accuracy over the traditional semi-conductor sensors.
- Warning Level Indicator: The AlcoHAWK PT500 features an audible and visual warning when a subject's BAC surpasses the adjustable BAC alarm point.
How fast can someone metabolize alcohol and be safe to drive? When I was a certified addictions counselor working for the Department of the Army, the accepted criteria was that a healthy 150 pound man could usually metabolize one drink, defined as 12 ounces of beer, 6 ounces or wine or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits in about one hour. To be safe to drive, the recommendation was to wait one more hour. A woman's physiology differs: metabolism takes longer due to less water (more fatty tissue) in her body to "dilute" the alcoho: a 150 pound woman is more effected by even one drink. Whether you drink on an empty stomach or have eaten a full meal changes metabolism as well. Drinking and eating actually slows down the metabolism! And how healthy your liver is or is not is another variable.
A wise host or hostess serves alcoholic beverages to adults in a manner that encourages prudent enjoyment of the beverages, perhaps cocktails, beer or wine with dinner and coffee or tea with dessert. Depending upon your group, having a breathalyzer on hand and "trying it out" may be quite acceptable. One customer last fall bought one for tailgating parties at the U. of Texas: his mature group of friends encouraged that action.
The fear is that immature adults or teens might use the unit to see how high a number can be blown before the person passes out, etc. People do die from alcohol poisoning, i.e. when the breathing response is effected and/or the person goes into a coma-like state.
Thank you for your questions. We hope this introduction to breathalyzers has been helpful.