How accurate are digital breathalysers?

This will come down to the quality of the breathalyser and the quality of the sensor contained within it. Breathalysers Australia’s range of fuel-cell electrochemical units are extremely accurate and also read to one thousandth of a decimal point. Our range of semi-conductor units are a little less accurate and read to one hundredth of a decimal point.

When buying a breathalyser always buy a reputable brand from a reputable dealer. If you can’t find information about the make and model through Google then you are not purchasing tried and tested. Also the majority of major brands have had replicated units created of their products. If you want quality assured then you must buy from the manufacturers nominated supplier.


What is BAC?

BAC is short for Blood Alcohol Content. It is a measurement of weight per unit of volume. Understanding readings can be difficult as there are different methods of interpretation such as mcg per litre of breath and mcg per 100ml of blood. The international standard however is %BAC and we have found that this is the easier format for the majority of people to understand. Breathalysers Australia will be endeavouring to move all models to %BAC display over time.


How long must I wait before using my breathalyser?

We recommend 20 minutes after your last alcoholic beverage to be safe. Shorter times than this can mean that alcohol is sitting in the stomach and has yet to be absorbed into the blood. It may also mean that traces of alcohol are still present in the mouth. Either of these situations will mean that the breathalyser result will be higher than your actual BAC.

An easy way to tell if your BAC is rising or falling is to test yourself at 5 minute intervals. Once falling it will not rise again until additional alcohol is consumed.


What are the Australian Drink Driving Limits?

Road laws are state or territory based, but all states and territories have set similar rules.
Australian law allows police officers to stop any driver and perform a random breath test without reason. Roadblocks can be set up (for example, leading out of town centres on Friday and Saturday nights and after football matches or other major events), where every single driver will be breath-tested. This differs from UK and US laws, where police generally need a reason to suspect that the driver is intoxicated, before requesting a breath and/or sobriety test. It is an offence to refuse to provide a sample of breath when requested, with severe penalties including prison.

Australian Capital Territory
0 for drivers or riders holding a learner, provisional, restricted or probationary license and for drivers operating heavy vehicles over 15t GVM or driving a public vehicle for hire or reward (for example taxi and bus drivers).
0.05% for all other drivers.

New South Wales
Zero for Learner and Provisional licences.

0.02% for drivers of vehicles of “gross vehicle mass” greater than 13.9 tonnes, vehicles carrying dangerous goods or public vehicles such as a taxi or bus.

0.05% for all other drivers

Northern Territory
0 for provisional (probationary) licence holders and all motorcyclists.

0.05% for all other drivers.

Queensland
A 0 limit applies to the drivers of trucks, buses, articulated vehicles, vehicles carrying dangerous goods, pilot vehicles, taxis, all learner drivers and provisional drivers and RE class licensed motorcyclists in their first 12 months.

0.05% for other drivers.

South Australia
0 limit for learner, provisional, probationary, heavy (greater than 15 tonne) vehicle, taxis, licensed chauffeured vehicles, dangerous goods, and bus licenses.

0.05% for all other drivers.

Tasmania

0 limit for learner, provisional, truck, bus, and taxi licences.

0.05% for all other drivers.

Victoria
0 limit applies for unlicensed drivers, holders of learner permits and probationary licences, “professional” drivers, and certain relicensed drunk-drivers.

0.05% for all other drivers.

There are also other restrictions for drivers in Victoria:

Limits apply within 3 hours of driving – that is, police can require a person to submit to an alcohol or drugs test within 3 hours of driving and it is an offense to fail that test, unless the drug or alcohol use occurred after driving (see Road Safety Act 1986, ss. 49, 53 and 55E).

Licenses canceled for certain serious drunk-driving offenses may only be reissued after obtaining a court order. This is the case for repeat offenders, and first offenders above 0.15% . In such cases, the relicensed driver is subject to a 0 limit for 3 years following relicensing, or for as long as the person is required to use an alcohol interlock.

Alcohol interlocks must be imposed whenever a repeat drunk-driver is relicensed. A court also has discretion to impose an alcohol interlock when relicensing a first offender in certain serious cases, generally when the offense involves a BAC of 0.15% or higher. The law requires interlocks to be used for certain minimum periods, but the requirement to use an interlock does not automatically end at the completion of the minimum period. Once that period has expired, an individual may apply to a court to have the interlock condition removed from their driver’s licence. The State Police must be given notice of the application and may make submissions to the court on whether the interlock condition should be removed. The court will also take into account data recorded by the interlock itself (e.g., whether any attempts were made to start the vehicle by a person who had been drinking). Driving without an interlock when one is required carries severe penalties, including imprisonment.

If a doctor sees any patient who is aged 15 years or over as a result of a motor vehicle accident, the patient must allow the doctor to take a blood sample for testing for alcohol and drug content in a way that preserves the chain of evidence. If this process is skipped the doctor may not be able to discover the alcohol blood level. The results can be used as evidence in subsequent court proceedings.

The law allows a police officer to require any driver (or any person who has driven a vehicle within the last three hours) to perform a random saliva test for methamphetamine, Cannabis or MDMA, all of which are subject to a zero limit (see Road Safety Act 1986: ss. 49, 55E & 55D)

Western Australia
0 for learner and probationary licence holders and persons convicted of driving under the influence and/or failing to comply with a request for breath, blood or urine (for three years after the offense).

0.05% for all other drivers.

Readings over 0.08% but under 0.15% BAC, and 0.15% BAC and above (legally defined as Drunk Driving) comprise separate offenses, the latter attracting heavier penalties. Persistent offenders may be barred from driving for terms up to and including life, and may also be imprisoned.


How do I pair my smartphone with my breathalyser?

The Bactrack Mobile & BACtrack Vio

In order to use the BACtrack Vio you will need to download the BACtrack app from the App Store or Google play onto your smartphone. You can find it by searching “BACtrack”.

The first time you use the device you will need to pair it with your smartphone. Make sure you have Bluetooth turned on in the phones settings to do this.

Note: The best way to use The BACtrack Vio each time is to open the app first and then turn on the device.


What should my personal breathalyser be used for?

Personal breathalysers are designed to help individuals understand their Breath Alcohol Content. As technology moves ahead they are being used increasingly from a personal well-being perspective. Certain latest model breathalysers enable functionality such as the tracking, graphing and averaging of alcohol consumption over time.

Some individuals choose to use breathalysers to determine whether or not it is safe for them to drive. All Breathalysers Australia’s breathalysers are for the purposes of indicative testing only. They cannot dispute the results of an official test and they cannot be used as evidence in a court of law. Neither the manufacturer, distributor or retailer will be held responsible for inappropriate use of any Breathalysers Australia products.


Why do we have different readings yet we have had the same amount to drink?

It is in fact more likely than not for two people who have consumed the same amount of alcohol, in the same amount of time, to have two different readings. BAC content is affected by gender, weight, age, metabolism, food and liquid consumption (to name a few). Results will also change from one day to the next with the same individual. This is why it is so important to have a breathalyser to test yourself. No breathalyser = no certainty.


How do I get hold of additional mouthpieces?

We stock a full range of additional mouthpieces. You can order these through the site by going to the PRODUCTS page. Your unit will generally come standard with either 3, 5 or 6 pieces. All mouthpieces can be reused but please ensure that you keep them hygienically clean and that the airway remains clear. Mouthpieces are dishwasher friendly.


What factors affect my BAC?

Few people understand the variables involved in how your body processes alcohol. There is a common misconception that I can have x number of drinks and be safe to drive. Here is a little interesting info:

The number of drinks. The more you drink, the higher the BAC.
How fast you drink. When alcohol is consumed quickly, you will reach a higher BAC than when it is consumed over a longer period of time
Your gender. Women generally have less water and more body fat per pound of body weight than men. Alcohol does not enter fat cells as easily as other cells, so more alcohol remains in the blood of women.
Your weight. The more you weigh, the more water is present in your body. This water dilutes the alcohol and lowers the BAC.
Food in your stomach. Absorption will be slowed if you’ve had something to eat as the alcohol will have less direct contact with the stomach lining.


What is the difference between a semi-conductor and electrochemical (fuel cell) sensor?

Breathalyser sensor technology has advanced from purely semi-conductor to the use of electrochemical sensors as well in recent time. Quality electrochemical (fuel cell) sensors are more precise and hold their accuracy substantially longer than semi-conductor sensors. They are also more expensive however. That being said good quality semi-conductor sensors still have fairly high accuracy and will last at least 50 tests / 9 months before requiring calibration


Why do I have to wait to use my digital breathalyser after turning it on?

When you first turn your breathalyser on it will need to warm the units sensor up to approximately the same temperature as your breath, which is around 34 degrees celsius. Times will range from 5 – 45 second depending on the quality of sensor that you have purchased. This needs to happen to ensure accuracy of the reading. If the warm up time becomes very slow then this is an indication that there is residue alcohol build up on the sensor and it is time for recalibration.


How come I have drunk alcohol and still get a 0% reading?

Smaller amounts of alcohol (1-2 standard drinks in an hour for example) may be processed and eliminated by the body quickly. Factors are dependent on individual constitution however so this is not necessarily the case. Your BAC will only continue to rise once your body can no longer process the amount of alcohol consumed. ie: past saturation point.


My result came back just under the limit. Am I safe to drive?

If in doubt then do not drive, the risk is not worth it. Alcohol can take up to an hour to be absorbed into the blood stream meaning your BAC can rise for up to an hour after your last alcoholic beverage. A good way to know if you BAC is still rising or falling is to re-test yourself at 5 minute intervals.


Why does my unit give an error message when I blow into it?

Errors can happen for several reasons such as:

The battery power is too low to conduct a test.
Your sensor has alcohol build up and requires calibration.
Flow errors. Restart the unit and blow consistently through the mouthpiece.
If you are unsure then please contact us.


Why is my breathalyser having trouble powering up?

Make sure that you are using alkaline batteries. Carbon batteries may not have enough power to start the unit up. Also be conscious of rechargeable batteries as some have different voltages.