I have previously reviewed the AlcoSense Ultra and AlcoSense Pro, both of which are superb highly accurate breathalysers but with a price tag of £250 and £150 they a bit beyond the means of your average user.
Some stats from the Alcosense website:
- 51% of drivers are unaware they could be over the morning after
- 17.8% of drink driving convictions are the morning after
- 5 time more likely to be in an accident based on the Scottish limit
- 13 times more like to be an accident based on the English limit
- 4 Pints between 9 pm and 11 pm and you may not be clear until 11 am (I am not too sure how this
The general rule of thumb with alcohol leaving your system is 1 unit per hour.
A pint of 4% beer/cider is 2.3 units. A 500ml can of 5% beer is 2.5 units. If you like your craft beers, they tend to be stronger and a small 330 can or bottle at 5.5% will be 1.8 units. A bottle of Lagunitas IPA is 2.2 units.
While I would never condone driving the day after a heavy drinking session, it is quite easy just to have a few beers, feel semi sober than drive first thing in the morning thinking you are fine, when in fact you are not.
I am not too sure how Alcosense came up with their calculations above, but 5 beers ending at 11 pm should take around 12.5 hours to clear your system fully (500ml@5%). The clock will start shortly after you start drinking, but most calculators online start from when you finish drinking until you are 100% sober, this is obviously a cautious calculation to make sure no one does anything stupid based on the results.
Alcosense Elite 3 Specification
- Accuracy – ±0.20‰BAC over reading range
- Sensor type – Premium Semi-Conductor
- Sensor size – 28 mm²
- Breath sampling system – basic
- Adjustable drive alert – Adjustable – Any UK/Irish/Scottish Limit
- Blowcoach – No
- Test memory – 9
- Recalibration period – 12 months
- Recalibration price – £22.99 inc VAT
AlcoSense Elite 3 vs VPOW Breathalyzer testing
For this review, I bought a cheap alternative off Amazon to see how things compare. The model I purchased has no information on its sensor size, accuracy or type of sensor. They make no mention of a recalibration period either, and I doubt this company would offer such a service, so this will likely only keep its accuracy for a year.
The AlcoSense Elite 3 model is much more basic than the previous two I reviewed. They had a memory with the option to set your location, giving you the correct readings for your country. They had a pressure reading allowing you to maintain the correct pressure for the test giving you an accurate result.
The Elite 3 uses a 28mm2 semi-conductor sensory, which is accurate but the Excel, Pro and Ultra all use a fuel cell which is the same type of sensor used in police equipment.
With this one, you just wait until the unit is ready and then blow out consistently for a few seconds.
Previously when I reviewed the Pro model I spaced out my drinking with food and I was surprised how low my blood alcohol levels were throughout the evening, staying legal to driveway beyond what I would have expected.
With this one, I had a couple of drinks before eating, and in quick succession, these were only small cans of craft beer, but moderately high alcohol content.
I tested myself between each beer, and also tested myself against the VPOW. When you are blowing clear, the Alcosense shows green with a low reading and then when you are over the limit it goes read with a blood alcohol content reading.
There is normally a yellow reading too, for when you are close to the limit. This time around my BAC level raised quickly enough that I skipped that part.
The previous reviews models also told you when you would be sober, this one does not
In one of the readings I blew red after my second drink, but totally clear on the cheap model, when redoing it I blew clear. I suspect I blew in too hard or too soft, causing a false positive.
Apart from that one issue, throughout the test, the units gave similar results, this typically showed slightly higher. For example, my reading at 5:15pm was 0.77, whereas the cheap unit was 0.69. There is no way of telling which one is more accurate, but in this scenario, the Alcosense is going to be the safest option.
So in this test, I ended up being over the limit considerably faster than last time, and much sooner than expected. Which is a good reason why you should never drink anything before driving if possible. However, by early morning I was blowing green again.
While not the cheapest device on the market, the Elite 3 comes from one of the most reputable brands on the market. If you find yourself in the situation where you will need to breathalyse yourself the next day, this could make the difference between losing your licence or even life and death so I would recommend that it is best to go with a decent company. In this test at least, the Alcosense consistently reported higher readings, it could be that this was inaccurate, but the Veipac could also be underreporting, and this could lead to disastrous consequences.
Even though this is excellent, and quite affordable if you do find yourself needing a breathalyser rather than just not driving at all, I’d be inclined to say you maybe should consider spending a little more and opting for the Excel. This has a memory, multi-country readings, and onscreen guide with blow prompts and it is twice as accurate as the Elite and has a fuel cell sensor similar to police units. That is quite a big difference for just £30 more.