Here’s something to try at your next house party: have everyone blow into an AlcoMate Revo breathalyzer as they arrive, write down their readings on a pad, and have them record their “scores” as the evening goes on. We did this on July 4th, and it was rather enlightening.
Before I tell you about our results, let’s discuss the tool we used to get them. The AlcoMate Revo is an affordable personal breathalyzer. It allows you to check your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) from 0.00% to 0.400%, and at 4″ long x 2″ wide x 0.6′ thick and weighing just an ounce, it is small enough to carry in your pocket.
The Revo comes in a hard plastic case, but it also includes a soft neoprene case with clip for storage. There are five mouthpieces included, and you can order more when you need them.
- ALCOHOL SENSOR: Fuel-Cell with PRISM Technology
- SIZE / DIMENSIONS: 4.0 x 2.0 x 0.6 in
- WEIGHT: 1.0000 oz
- MATERIAL: ABS Molding
- USERS: Corporate, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Pro-consumers
- POWER: 2 x Standard 1.5V AAA (Included)
- DETECTION RANGE: 0.000 – 0.400% BAC (G/DL)
- DISPLAY: 4-Digit LCD
- WARRANTY: 1 Year
- RECALIBRATION NEEDED: None required. Sensor Module should be replaced every 1000 test or at least once yearly.
- PRISM Technology
- DOT Approved
- US Coast Guard Approved
- Accuracy: +/- 0.005 at 0.10 g/dL (%BAC)
- Fuel-Cell Sensor
- 4-Digit LCD Results Display
- Active Pressure Sensor
- Deep Lung Air Sampling
- Cumulative Test Counter
Why would anyone want to own their own breathalyzer? Well the obvious answer would be that if you think you’ve had too much to drink, enough that you’d want to check yourself before leaving a bar, party, or other event, then you probably shouldn’t drive anyway. But sometimes you just want to know how much you (or one of your guests) have actually had to drink. Owning your own breathalyzer takes the guesswork out of it … and it also can help you convince somebody that they aren’t “okay to drive”.
The AlcoMate Revo is extremely easy to use. The first thing I did was pop off the back to take a look at the battery compartment and the replaceable PRISM sensor. That’s the part labeled “Do not remove!”, so I didn’t. I did replace the included batteries with a fresh set of name-brand batteries, though — for accuracy’s sake.
With the AlcoMate Revo, AlcoMate Premium and AlcoMate Prestige, once the sensor becomes degraded so that it loses accuracy, you can literally remove and discard the existing module containing the sensor and replace it with a newly manufactured, pre-calibrated sensor module in its place. Replacement is quick and easy, and replacing the module is the only way to restore true “day one” accuracy to your device.
Here’s some more information on the PRISM (sensor module), and why the Revo’s sensor is made to be replaced versus recalibrated like some other breathalyzer sensors.
The semi-clear mouthpiece fits into the hole on the right side.
You press the power button on the front of the Revo to start the process. As the breathalyzer sets up, you’ll see random lines pop up in the backlit LCD window.
Once the Revo has finished calibrating, it will instruct you to blow. It is best to test your BAC at least 20 minutes after you have eaten or had anything to drink; you want pure air from your lungs going into the Revo; if you have fresh alcohol on your breath, it can dramatically alter your results.
The Revo takes what they call a “deep lung” sample, which means that you don’t just puff into the mouthpiece and call it good. You blow, and you’ll hear a beep as you are blowing. That beep will continue until you hear (and feel) a click, which is the breathalyzer telling you that it is done collecting the sample. Shortly after, your result will display.
Several of the people at our 4th of July party joked that it was like an asthma test, as they had to blow for several seconds waiting for the click.
It’s really that simple.
So how did the AlcoMate Revo do?
Here’s the sheet we started our party with. As you can see, most of us started with a 0.00% BAC. One person (he wasn’t driving) showed up with a 0.4% BAC. which is as high as the Revo can measure. I don’t know if his BAC was actually higher than that, but since 0.08% is the legal limit, at 0.4 this guest was at least 5 times the legal limit. Another guest (also not driving) had one beer before he left his house; he blew a 0.024%, which is consistent with one beer. I had a generous mixed drink (Waterloo Gin and grapefruit flavored La Croix water), and after finishing it I blew a 0.46%. In other words, two of those within an hour, and I couldn’t have driven anywhere … which you can see when I blew the 0.092.
The scary thing is that I didn’t feel drunk, and if I hadn’t actually seen that I was, I might have been foolish enough to think I could drive. Obviously I would have been dead wrong.
You can see how my BAC lowered throughout the evening until it was 0.00% by the end of the party, and almost everyone followed a similar arc. Kev and the person who had shown up with a 0.4 decided to do a couple of shots at the very end … and you can see that their BACs reflect that. Kev wasn’t driving anywhere, and the other person had a ride. A couple of people forgot to check their BAC as the evening went on, but you can see that by 11:00pm, almost everyone was down to a legal limit … with the exception of a few who weren’t driving.
I should mention that Alcomate has this to say about drinking after having anything to drink:
Breathalyzers are for informational/monitoring purposes only. We absolutely do NOT recommend driving after consuming ANY amount of alcohol. It has been medically shown that there is a greatly increased risk even when driving with a BAC of 0.05% or lower. There is NO “safe” amount of alcohol to drink before driving.
Worth noting is that several times we would blow once, get a result, and then blow again. 9 times out of 10, the Revo gave the same result, or it might be a thousandth of a percent lower than the previous reading. That seems pretty darn accurate to me.
Alcohol is an interesting beast. You can think that you are fine to drive, and you can seem to be completely functional while being completely drunk, yet you can be over the legal limit. Having a breathalyzer like the AlcoMate Revo on hand so that everyone knows exactly where they stand is not only an excellent idea for people who aren’t good at judging their own limits, it is also a great way for a host to know when they need to call a cab for their buddy or keep them overnight to sleep it off. At ~$250, the Revo isn’t cheap, but it is an excellent gadget that can help you manage yours and your guests’ limits.
The AlcoMate Revo retails for $249.99, and it is available directly from the manufacturer.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Small size; Easy to set up; Accurate readings; Replaceable sensor; DOT certified for law enforcement and the Coast Guard, so you know it’s not a toy
What Needs Improvement: Nothing — it can definitely serve as a sobering reminder of how much you’ve actually had to drink