I hardly need to tell you that drink-driving is irresponsible. With party season on the horizon, it’s good to have reassurance that you’re below the drink drive limit at all times. Having your own breathaylser is one way to achieve this and so I was asked to try out the Alcosense Pro.
I am familiar with the Alcosense as I previously reviewed the Excel product. Having been very impressed first time around, I was happy to oblige and test the Pro, which is from the higher-end of Alcosense’s range. Here’s what I thought.
A word of caution
Before I even introduce the product, a word of caution. Alcosense’s marketing makes clear, the aim of the breathalyser is not so much to ensure you are okay to drive on the night. It’s more about ensuring you are safe to drive the morning after.
If you have been drinking, the advice would always be not to drive. With that public service announcement out the way, let’s look closely at the Alcosense Pro.
Introducing the Alcosense Pro
In terms of size and weight, the Alcosense Pro is identical to the Excel product (read my review here). If you wanted to make a comparison, it’s similar to an old-style flip-phone. Powered by three AAA batteries, it comes with several removable, reusable mouthpieces, although I’ll come on to how you use it in a moment.
Set up for the Alcosense Pro is incredibly easy. You take off a panel in the back to insert the batteries. Once in place, you have to set the date, time and your location.
This is where the Alcosense’s digital range of products proves its worth over single-use breathalysers. You can set the alcohol limit depending on where you are. The Pro can be configured to test for the differing levels in European Union countries, Australia and the United States of America. Crucially, you can also adjust it to measure the different levels between England and Scotland.
Setting the Alcosense Pro up is very easy. It took me no more than a couple of minutes.
One further thing to be aware of. If using overseas, do check the local legal requirements. For instance, the Alcosense Pro can be configured to test you against the French drink-drive limit, but to comply with local laws you are expected to carry NF Approved breathalysers on your person (these are available from Alcosense, follow link below).
Ease of Use
Once set up is complete, you flip the screen up, insert one of the plastic tubes in the unit and blow. In a difference to the Excel, the screen takes two measurements while you blow: pressure and volume. Both are measured as you blow to ensure you provide a steady specimen of breath.
After a few moments you will get one of four self-explanatory readings;
Green: You are fine to drive
Amber: Alcohol is present but you are below the drink drive limit. An amber reading comes with a recommendation you do not drive.
Red: The sample is either very close to or over the drink drive limit. Do not drive!
Black: The sensor has detected a reading outside the range expected from a human. You are either well and truly over the limit or you have accidentally blown alcohol into the unit and it will shut down for 24 hours.
It doesn’t end here. This is where the Alcosense Pro’s additional functionality comes into play.
The Pro comes with a further reading. If you return a red reading, it will give you an approximate time frame until you are under the drink drive limit. An alarm will go off to alert you it is time to test yourself again.
Cost and after sales service
The Alcosense Pro is on the market for £149.99 and available from Halford and Boots or online from the Alcosense website. There are, however, a number of products in the Alcosense range with its cheapest digital breathalyser, the Lite, costing just £40.
The Pro comes with a small USB cable. This is so you can connect it to a PC and update the software from time to time.
In addition to paying £149.99 for the Pro, you are supposed to get it serviced once a year to ensure accuracy. At the time of writing, this cost £24.99 including postage and took about five days.
The Alcosense Pro is very easy to use. In this age of devolution where different parts of the UK have different drink / drive limits, it would also serve a purpose.
If you want the extra security of the time until sober function, you may feel the Pro is right for you. Alternatively, the Excel model is £50 cheaper and you can simply breathalyse yourself the next day to check you are under the limit.
The Pro is a great product. It’s simply a case of whether you want to spend that additional money for the added functionality. Whether you plump for the Pro or Excel or another item form the Alcosense range, both would give you peace of mind that you were under the limit the morning after.
Disclosure: An Alcosense Pro digital breathalyser was provided for review purposes. Thoughts and opinions entirely my own.