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Alcohol Breathalyzer

Top Four Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why do I need a breath alcohol tester?
A Breathalyzer is a valuable purchase to ensure personal safety and the safety of others. An individual may purchase one for self-testing and monitoring to avoid the consequences of driving while intoxicated, or simply for a general understanding of how alcohol affects the body.

Since factors like weight, muscle mass, and recently consumed food or beverages all affect the measurement of person's blood alcohol content (BAC), it's impossible to accurately gauge intoxication level without a measurement tool like a breathalyzer. People are often enlightened when they measure their %BAC, particularly on different occasions after the same amount of alcohol is consumed.

2. What is the difference between the Personal and Professional Breathalyzer models you offer? Is a Professional Breathalyzer worth the extra money?
All breathalyzers sold at Breathalyzer.net are high quality and accurate products, and all are FDA 510(k) cleared, which means that product information and accuracy testing have been reviewed, and the product has been deemed "safe and effective" for consumer use.

We've simplified the process of selecting a breathalyzer by categorizing all models into one of two categories: Personal Breathalyzers, which use semiconductor oxide sensors, and Professional Breathalyzers, such as the BACtrack S75 Pro, BACtrack S80 Pro and Lifeloc FC-10 Series, which use fuel cell sensors.

Professional Breathalyzers (which utilize fuel cell sensors) provide the following benefits over Personal Breathalyzers (which utilize semiconductor sensors):

They will not show a false positive for someone who is diabetic or on a low calorie diet. Semiconductor models will sometimes show a false positive result for these individuals.

They provide more accurate and more consistent results as compared with semi-conductor models. For example, you are more likely to show the same test result when you test someone repeatedly in a very short period of time. In addition, they are more accurate at higher BAC concentrations, compared to semiconductor models, which often lose accuracy at higher BAC values.

They will remain accurate for up to thousands of tests.

They provide more precise readings since %BAC readings are displayed to the thousandth decimal place (0.054%) versus to the hundredth decimal place (0.05%).

Breathalyzers that utilize fuel cell sensors typically sell for over $450; however, this technology is becoming more affordable with models like the BACtrack S75 Pro, BACtrack S80 Pro, which are available for under $200.

3. Which breathalyzer model is right for me?
If you are interested in getting the highest level of accuracy in your readings, our recommendation is to spend the extra money on a Professional level breathalyzer that uses fuel cell sensor technology. These breathalyzers offer the same advanced technology used by law enforcement for preliminary screenings for a fraction of what they have previously cost. Law enforcement, substance abuse centers, clinics and businesses typically purchase these models, although they are often purchased for individual use too.

If you are more concerned with alcohol detection, the presence of alcohol versus the precise measurement of %BAC, a semiconductor oxide unit is likely satisfactory for your needs. These models are often used for self-testing or testing friends and family. The quality of these breathalyzers is far above novelty grade breathalyzers and they are both affordable and accurate.

4. What factors are important in choosing a breathalyzer?
Accuracy is likely the most important factor when making a breathalyzer purchase, so you should consider the Sensor Type – Semiconductor versus Fuel Cell. See question #3 above for information about the differences between these sensor types. Essentially, both options will provide accurate readings and the degree of accuracy will increase with the price.

FDA Approval is another important requirement to consider when choosing a breathalyzer. Every personal breathalyzer sold through Breathalyzer.net is FDA 510(k) cleared, which means the Food and Drug Administration has reviewed product information and accuracy testing, and the product has been deemed "safe and effective" for consumer use.

Breath Sample Collection is an essential factor, and critical to an accurate breathalyzer reading. While the use of mouthpieces is one element that aids in obtaining breath samples that exclude external air, other aids to accuracy are found in the actual product design. For instance, the miniature air pump featured in the BACtrack S75 Pro, and BACtrack S80 Pro Breathalyzers allows for the highest level of precision in collecting a breath sample. During use, the user can actually feel the "click" of the pump collecting the breath sample.

Lastly, you should look at the Brand of Breathalyzer you are purchasing. The manufacturer should be reputable, in the business of selling breathalyzers, specifically, for an extended period of time and have the endorsement of professionals and press as a result of providing a quality and accurate product.

General Breathalyzer Questions

Common questions about Breathalyzers are listed below. If you don't see an answer to your question, please feel free to contact us at info@breathalyzer.net or 1-877-334-6876.

How does a breathalyzer work? What types of technology do they employ?
Most breathalyzers use one of three technologies to detect Blood Alcohol Content or Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), which is the concentration of alcohol in a person's blood: a semiconductor oxide sensor, a fuel cell sensor or a spectrophotometer, the latter being the technology used in large, table-top breathalyzers often found at police stations.

Breathalyzer.net offers breathalyzers with semiconductor oxide sensors and fuel-cell sensors.

Semiconductor oxide-based testers, such as the BACtrack S70 and BACtrack S50 and are relatively new and very affordable. An ethanol-specific sensor is used to measure the subject's BAC. Semiconductor oxide sensors offer many benefits, including low cost, low power consumption and small size.

Semiconductor oxide based testers require calibration service on a more frequent basis (every 300-400 tests or once a year) than fuel cell based testers (every 5,000 tests). When used for personal, home and low-volume professional testing, semiconductor oxide models have been proven to perform very well and provide accurate readings.

Fuel cell testers, such as the Lifeloc FC series and BACtrack S75 Pro and BACtrack S80 Pro, offer extremely high accuracy and sensitivity, in addition to being handheld and portable. In over 30 US states, roadside evidential testing is now permitted using testers using fuel cells. A fuel cell measures alcohol content by creating a chemical reaction that oxidizes the alcohol in the sample and produces an electrical current. The more alcohol that is oxidized, the greater the current. The current is measured to determine the subject's BAC.

Spectrophotometer technology is used in large, table-top breathalyzers often found at police stations. Spectrophotometers work by identifying molecules based on the way they absorb infrared light. The level of ethanol in a sample is singled out and measured, and a subject's alcohol level can then be determined. Breathalyzer.net does not carry spectrophotometer testers.

What is %BAC?
Blood Alcohol Content or Blood Alcohol Concentration, abbreviated BAC, is the concentration of alcohol in a person's blood. BAC is most commonly used as a metric of intoxication for legal or medical purposes, and it's usually measured as mass per volume. For example, a BAC of 0.05% means 0.05 grams of alcohol per 100 grams of a person's blood, or 0.5 grams of alcohol per 1000 grams of blood.

Since factors like weight, muscle mass, and recently consumed food or beverages all affect the measurement of person's blood alcohol content (BAC), it's impossible to accurately measure intoxication level without a measurement tool like a breathalyzer.

Am I safe to drive if my breathalyzer shows that I'm under the legal limit?
Absolutely not. Breathalyzers are for informational purposes only and there is no acceptable level of alcohol consumption that makes it safe to drive. Any alcohol that enters a person's body can impair reflexes, motor skills, and cognitive abilities.

Is a person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) the only factor in determining whether or not a DUI is given?
No, the %BAC is not the only factor considered. Many people do not realize they can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) even if their %BAC is under the legal limit. A person can be charged if they are at or over the "legal limit," which is .08 %BAC in all 50 US States, or if they are "impaired to any degree," regardless of the %BAC level.

Who invented the breathalyzer?
Though technologies for detecting alcohol vary, it's widely accepted that Dr. Robert Borkenstein (1912-2002), a captain with the Indiana State Police and later a professor at the University of Indiana, is regarded as the first to create a device that measures a subject's alcohol level based on a breath sample. In 1954, Borkenstein invented his breathalyzer, that used chemical oxidation and photometry to determine alcohol concentration. The invention of the breathalyzer provided law enforcement with a non-invasive test with immediate result reporting that can be used to determine an individual's level of intoxication.

Breathalyzer Usage and Maintenance

How do I use my breath alcohol tester?
For most models, a user simply blows through the mouthpiece for 5 seconds. The breathalyzer will indicate when to start and stop blowing, and if the sample was not adequate for an accurate reading.

The sensors measure the alcohol level of air in the deep lungs. This value is converted into the corresponding Blood Alcohol Content (%BAC) estimate. Testing is most accurate if subjects have not consumed food or alcohol 15 minutes prior to testing to ensure that there is no residual mouth alcohol.

Why must I wait 15 minutes after consuming food or alcohol to ensure testing results are accurate?
A breathalyzer is able to calculate this percentage using only a breath sample because of the precise relationship between alcohol in the blood and alcohol metabolized into the lungs from the bloodstream. As such, it is important to make sure the mouth is clear of contaminant (including alcohol) so that the breath sample contains pure lung air, or as close as possible.

What type of maintenance is required to maintain a personal or professional breathalyzer? Do they require calibration?
Over time, all alcohol testers need to be re-calibrated to maintain accuracy. Calibration is a process of checking and adjusting the accuracy of a unit by comparing its results with a known value. For example, a known 0.080 %BAC gas concentration is blown into a breathalyzer, and the unit is adjusted to make sure it correctly reads 0.080 %BAC.

This process is sort of like winding a clock. When the clock is first set it displays accurate time. However, over time the clock gradually drifts a few minutes, and eventually can be off by quite a bit if you do not occasionally reset the clock. When selecting an alcohol tester, it is imperative to select a unit that is capable of being calibrated.

How often should I calibrate my breathalyzer to ensure accuracy?
We recommend re-calibrating personal and professional approximately once a year. Note that breathalyzers with fuel cell sensors will remain accurate for a much longer period of time than semiconductor breathalyzers - up to thousands of tests longer. For these models, using the breathalyzer regularly can actually help keep it accurate, as the moisture in exhaled human breath is beneficial to the sensor.

How do I get my breathalyzer calibrated?
See our Calibration FAQs for more information and to complete a form to send your breathalyzer to us for calibration. Our trained technicians will perform a full diagnostic check on all aspects of your breathalyzer as part of the calibration process.

Breathalyzer Accessories

How can I order additional mouthpieces for my breathalyzer? Do I need to replace the mouthpiece after every test?
Please visit our Breathalyzer Mouthpieces page to order mouthpieces and other supplies.

Replacing the mouthpiece after each test is optional if you are testing yourself. For professional testing and screening, it is recommended to change the mouthpiece after each test for safety and performance reasons.

Do you offer Disposable Breath Alcohol Testers?
Yes, we offer a new product from BACtrack, called the SingleShot. It's a disposable, single-use breath alcohol tester available in three %BAC thresholds: 0.02, 0.05 and 0.08. The BACtrack SingleShot is based on indicator chemistry that changes color in the presence of breath that contains alcohol.

A user will activate the small tube tester, blow through the SingleShot, and the crystals will indicate a positive or negative result based on the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). For example, the SingleShot .02% will indicate "positive" by changing color when the user's alcohol level is at or above 0.02 %BAC. These units are accurate, inexpensive, and extremely small, which makes them easy to carry in a pocket.

Questions About Purchasing from Breathalyzer.net

Why should I buy from Breathalyzer.net?
Breathalyzer.net is your trusted source for all types of breath alcohol detectors. We work directly with breathalyzer manufacturers to ensure quality products and service for our customers. Unlike other companies that may sell a variety of different products, we specialize in personal and professional breath alcohol testers. We're an industry leader and have been providing satisfied customers with alcohol testing equipment since 2001.

Our website features advanced 128-bit security, so you know your transaction is safe. Our advanced order fulfillment system ensures that most orders ship the same business day as long as the order is placed by 12:00 pm PST! Not many websites can offer that type of service.

Breathalyzer.net also offers free phone support to all customers. Our knowledgeable employees are here to answer any questions and address any concerns you may have. For toll-free phone support, please call us at 1-877-334-6876. Our normal hours of business are Monday through Friday, 9:00 am - 6:00 pm Pacific time.

How do I contact Breathalyzer.net?
For toll-free phone support, please call us at 1-877-334-6876. Our normal hours of business are Monday through Friday, 9:00 am - 6:00 pm Pacific time. Please refer to our contact page for additional contact information.

Does Breathalyzer.net accept purchase orders?
Breathalyzer.net does accept purchase orders from businesses. Please contact us for more information on how to submit your Purchase Order to us. All orders invoiced are subject to shipping charges. All orders paid for via credit card are eligible for free ground shipping.

What else should I know about Breathalyzer.net?
Breathalyzer.net is a division of KHN Solutions LLC, a privately held company located in San Francisco, California. We believe that portable breath testers can help discourage drinking and driving and unsafe levels of alcohol consumption, and also serve as educational and entertaining safety devices.

Shipping, Refunds, and Returns

How long does it take for my order to arrive?
All products currently include FREE two to four day Priority Mail shipping. For higher valued orders, we may ship your order using UPS ground service to provide additional insurance. If you need a delivery by a specific date including next day shipping, please choose one of the UPS shipping options from the drop down bar during checkout.

Please allow additional transit time for during weekends and holidays and to some rural areas. Also, please note that UPS next day air and 2nd day air orders will not be delivered on weekends. UPS only delivers orders on regular business days. (Monday - Friday)

What shipping carriers does Breathalyzer.net use?
All consumer breathalyzers are shipped via USPS Priority mail. All professional breathalyzers are shipped via UPS. International orders are shipped Global Priority Mail unless otherwise requested by the customer.

I live outside the United States. Does Breathalyzer.net ship international orders?
Yes. Breathalyzer.net ships to most countries around the world. There are additional charges for international orders which will be displayed at time of checkout. Orders will take longer than two to three days to reach destinations outside the United States.

My order arrived damaged. What should I do?
Please email customerservice@breathalyzer.net immediately if any item arrives damaged. We will ship a replacement order to you free of charge.

What is the return policy at Breathalyzer.net?
Any item may be returned within 14 days of purchase for a refund, minus a 15% shipping and restocking fee. Please fill out our Return Authorization Form and include with your return. Any item that is not working properly and is still within a warranty period may be returned for an exchange.

Just fill out our Return Authorization Form, describe the problem on the form, and include with your return. If your breathalyzer is giving inaccurate readings, please read our Calibration Questions page before returning your product.