A portable breathalyzer is smart investment for anyone who wants to drive responsibly after a night at the bar. Portable breathalyzers can be easily transported, either in a backpack, a purse, or even on your keychain. These personal breathalyzers vary in cost, but are generally quite affordable. And of course, they’re cheaper than getting a DUI. We’ve rounded up five of the best portable breathalyzers on the market today. Our top picks vary in price and size, so it should be easy for you to pick the one that best suits your unique needs.
A few cautionary words before we dive in…The legal BAC limit in the United States is 0.08, but you may be stopped by police, charged with an offense, or ticketed even if you are under that BAC level. That legal BAC limit is for persons of legal drinking age. The legal BAC limit for those who aren’t yet 21 ranges from 0.00 to 0.02 percent BAC, depending on the state. For commercial drivers, a BAC of .04 percent can result in a DUI or DWI conviction nationwide.
Personal and portable breathalyzers are designed to provide you with an estimate of you intoxication so you can make an informed decision about getting behind the wheel. Most breathalyzer models recommend you wait 15-20 minutes after drinking to test your BAC, in order to ensure the most accurate results possible. The body can take even longer than this to process alcohol, so you may want to wait as long as an hour after your last drink to test your BAC. Just because you are within the legal drinking limit does not mean you are capable of driving safely, so always use your best judgement, and stay aware of local laws that govern driving while intoxicated. Always drink responsibly, and never drive when you feel impaired, no matter what your BAC reading may be.
1. Alcohoot AHT101 Smartphone Breathalyzer
Looking for a breathalyzer that’s small enough to fit in your pocket? Consider the Alchohoot. It uses an FDA-registered fuel cell sensor, which is the same technology used by police and military devices. The folks at Alcohoot were kind enough to send us a review unit so we could go hands on with this portable breathalyzer.
Operation is very simple. Just extend the retractable plug from the Alcohoot device, and then plug it right into your smartphone’s headphone jack. The device works with iPhones, and many Android devices running Android 4.0+. A nice feature is the in-app timer, which reminds you when 15 minutes have passed since your last drink. This lets you know when enough time has passed to do a BAC reading. The SmartLine and Morning Quiz features in the app use algorithms to help you drink smarter next time, and get a better handle on how impaired you feel at certain BAC levels.
The device isn’t the most rugged, and does need to be kept at room temperature. Don’t leave it in your car during winter or summer and expect it to stay in good condition. The device comes with a few mouthpieces to get you started. The device can also be used without a mouthpiece, in a pinch. Using the mouthpiece helps to ensure that you are blowing only your breath into the device, and not ambient air, which can skew results. The mouthpieces can be re-used and washed.
One minor thing I disliked was the vibration when blowing into the unit. It was just too quiet. Even when using the device while relatively sober, it was hard to notice the vibration that indicated I could stop blowing. Overall, however, this is a solid breathalyzer that is very user-friendly.
Price: $89.95 (10 percent off MSRP)
Learn more about how this product works in the video above.
- Portable and pocket-sized
- Easy to operate
- Tests are graphed in your personal activity log (in the app)
- Helps you find a taxi or a restaurant where you can sober up and stay warm
- May require you to remove case from phone to fully insert device
- Requires a smartphone (no display on device)
- Requires periodic recharging
2. AlcoMate Revo Breathalyzer
The AlcoMate Revo is the flagship breathalyzer from AK GlobalTech. Their team was kind enough to send us a review unit so we could go hands on with this personal breathalyzer.
We recommend this breathalyzer to those who are looking for a premium breathalyzer experience, with uncompromising accuracy. It is portable, but the unit and all the various accoutrements are definitely a lot more bulky than smartphone-compatible breathalyzers. Each of AK GlobalTech’s breathalyzers are tested and approved for accuracy by the Department of Transportation.
A major perk here is the simple design. It’s got a straightforward design, and it’s easy to tell when to start and stop blowing. The display is easy to read. AlcoMate products have replaceable sensors, so they never have to be sent in for maintenance. Because they can always be manually re-calibrated, they have a longer lifespan. The sensor should be replaced after 1,000 tests.
In addition to use by consumers, AlcoMate products are recommended for use in professional settings, including rehabilitation centers, hospitals and clinics. Military and government agencies also use this brand to ensure the most accurate results. The U.S. Navy & Marine Corps even use the product exclusively. If you need an accurate device for personal or professional use, this may be the best option for your needs.
Price: $229.95 (8 percent off MSRP)
Learn about the company’s whole line of alcohol breathalyzers in the video above.
- Replaceable sensors
- Trusted by professionals and government employees
- May be too expensive for some budgets
3. Breathometer Breeze Wearable & Wireless Smartphone Breathalyzer
Breathometer is a wearable breathalyzer you can attach to your clothes. It’s relatively inconspicuous, and quite lightweight. It connects to your smartphone using Bluetooth, and takes mere seconds to give you your results. Within the app, you can see estimates on how long it should take you to get sober.
Other features of the Breathometer app include the ability to find nearby lodging, or even the ability to call a car through Uber so you can get home safely. The app also syncs with Apple’s Health Kit, so you can see how your drinking may be negatively impacting your health over time. The app is available on iOS devices, and on select Android devices running at least Android 4.3.
Price: $50.97 (36 percent off MSRP)
Check out this guy’s take on which breathalyzer brand is best. He compares units from BACtrack and Breathometer.
- Wireless design
- Highly portable
- Works quickly
- Helps you know when you’ll be safe to drive
- Does require a smartphone
- No display
- Some users dislike app interface
- Some users have raised concerns that results are not as accurate as possible
Find more Breathometer Breeze Wearable & Wireless Smartphone Breathalyzer information and reviews here.
4. BACtrack Go Keychain Breathalyzer
If you leave your breathalyzer at home, it’s not going to be very helpful when you go to use it at the end of the night. That’s why some people prefer a BAC tracker than fits right onto their car keys. An ultra-portable keychain breathalyzer is perfect for those nights when you’re going out to have a drink.
BACtrack’s Go Keychain breathalyzer is a great option for personal use. Only three mouthpieces are included. The mouthpiece folds in for easy storage. The LCD display is a bit on the small side, but this is still a solid choice for people who need a small, ultra-portable BAC tester. As with all BAC testers, you should only use this tester after at least 15 minutes have passed since you finished your last drink. This ensures accurate results. You may want to wait even longer in some cases.
Price: $29.04 (27 percent off MSRP)
- Reasonably priced
- Batteries are included
- Globally-respected brand
- Only under warranty for one year
- Will not estimate how long it will take for your BAC to return to zero
5. AlcoHAWK Slim Digital Breathalyzer Alcohol Detector
AlcoHAWK is one of the best known names in consumer breathalyzers. There are lot of different models available (you can shop the whole catalog here), but the Slim hits a nice sweet spot in terms of price and portability. The display is just two digits, compared to the larger displays on other units. However, it is extremely easy to operate with just one button. If you need a low-cost option, this should be at the top of your list.
Price: $40.94 (26 percent off MSRP)
- Measures blood alcohol concentration within a range of 0.000 – 0.400% BAC
- Compact folding mouthpiece design
- Only has a two digit display
- Long warm up time compared to other units from same company
- Does not have Enhanced Breath Sensor