This Cool Gad­get Could Save Your Life After a Night of Drinking

George Tinari

It has happened to the best of us. You go out for a couple of drinks with friends and anticipate being home at a certain time. Before you know it, you or the person driving had a little too much and now you’re stuck there until you find a new ride or someone sobers up. Sometimes, though, people under the influence try to trick themselves and others into thinking they’re perfectly okay to drive. And that can have unfortunate and devastating consequences.

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Mobile breathalyzers are as critical as they are just downright cool. | Photo: BACtrack

Don’t your think your own life and safety are more important than quietly trusting an intoxicated person to get you home? At the same rate, if you’re driving home after a night out, you should have peace of mind knowing that you’re fully capable and in accordance with the law.

Up until recently I thought the same thing as most people: breathalyzers are expensive and generally only used by professionals. It turns out, I’m incorrect. Anyone can get their hands on one for a pretty reasonable price. They work well, and best of all, modern breathalyzers work with iOS and Android to give you more data about your blood alcohol content (BAC) and journey to sobriety.

Smartphone Breathalyzers

Consumer breathalyzers are not meant to compete with the accuracy of professional-grade, but they should still be reliable.

Smartphone breathalyzers work in conjunction with your mobile phone. They have Bluetooth built-in which allows them to work with a mobile app. Every time you breathe into the breathalyzer, your result shows in the mobile app. The apps also have features that track your BAC history and provide a time for when you’ll be sober.

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Photo: BACtrack

The best and arguably most well known smartphone breathalyzers are from BACtrack’s line. The BACtrack Vio and the BACtrack Mobile Pro are the two breathalyzers in this category that are pretty highly rated. The Vio has a smaller keychain form factor, while Mobile Pro is larger and more suitable for the palm of your hand. The Mobile Pro is also known to be more accurate.

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Photo: BACtrack

Bear in mind that these consumer breathalyzers are not meant to compete with the accuracy of professional-grade breathalyzers, but they should still be reliable enough, combined with your own smart intuition.

The BACtrack Mobile Pro is available for $99.99 and the BACtrack Vio is $49.99. They can ship internationally for an additional fee. The app is available free for iOS and Android.

Keychain Breathalyzers

The other category of breathalyzers you’ll find far more excessively on Amazon is keychain breathalyzers. These don’t need your smartphone to function. Instead, they have a small display that prompts you to blow into the sensor and then shows you your BAC like a regular breathalyzer would. If your phone dies during your night out, you’ll still be able to check your sobriety level. The con, though, is that you don’t get the cool features that come with having the mobile app.

If you’re ever uncertain about getting into the car with someone else driving, whip out the breathalyzer and make the driver take the test.

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Photo: BACtrack

I’ve owned the BACtrack Go keychain for about two years now and it’s served me well, though I’ve only had to use it seriously less than a handful of times. (Also, people for some reason enjoy using it whether they’re driving or not to see their levels.)

Use it on others too. If you’re ever uncertain about getting into the car with someone else driving, whip out the breathalyzer and make them take the test.

Here in the United States, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of more than 0.08 percent. I personally have a pretty good sense of when I’m able to drive and when I’m not as proven by using my breathalyzer. More often than not, I forced another driver to use it to ensure they were following the law. That’s an important tip to keep in mind: if you’re ever uncertain about getting into the car with someone else driving, whip out the breathalyzer and make them take the test.

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Photo: AccuMed

If you’re looking for an alternative to the BACtrack brand, a highly rated substitute on Amazon is the AccuMed Professional Breathalyzer for $59.99. It’s larger and doesn’t fit on a keychain, but is well-priced for a more reliable device.

Meanwhile, you can find the BACtrack Go keychain for as little as $14.99 on Amazon.

The bottom line is if you’re someone who enjoys occasional night living and imbibing, it’s invaluable to have an affordable, portable breathalyzer on you. Do make it a priority to buy one.

The above article may contain affiliate links which help support Guiding Tech. However, it does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains unbiased and authentic.

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George Tinari has written about technology for over seven years: guides, how-tos, news, reviews and more. He's usually sitting in front of his laptop, eating, listening to music or singing along loudly to said music. You can also follow him on Twitter @gtinari if you need more complaints and sarcasm in your timeline.