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Store Breathalyzers A Danger Warn Police

It’s one way to fight drunk driving, but a lot of motorists who intend to indulge and then head home behind the wheel think they may have  found an alternative.

Many have been purchasing a $20 ‘breathalyzer’ called the Alcohol Tester that’s on sale at some local stores.

It purports to be able to tell you when you’ve had too much or are over the legal limit. You simply blow into it for 30 seconds and it’s supposed to inform you whether you’re legally drunk or not.

But cops warn they don’t work and worry you could be lulling yourself into a false sense of security about your own abilities, putting yourself and the lives of others in danger.

Officers point out a $20 machine isn’t terribly accurate. And they explain there’s a reason why their equipment costs thousands of dollars.

All the major forces will be out en masse this weekend, with a special emphasis on New Year’s Eve.

Police in York Region will be especially vigilant. They’ve released new stats that show drunk driving charges have nearly doubled since last year.

And if you think you can avoid them, think again.

“It’s different than previously,” warns Staff Sgt. Chris Bullen. “We have unmarked vehicles going out on patrol … The message is quite clear. We are not going to lose any lives this year.”

As for those handheld 20-buck gadgets?

“This won’t give you an accurate reading,” Bullen says, pointing to the small invention and then to his own expensive breathalyzer. “This does.”

Breathalyzer Readings

Ever wonder what the readings mean? Here’s a look:

0.5 or under: You’re allowed to continue on your way.

0.6-1 percent: A warning will be issued and you’ll be suspended from driving for 12 hours.

Above 1 percent: You’ve failed the breathalyzer and police will take you into custody, charging you with impaired driving. It’s only then you’re allowed to call your lawyer.

Fines range from about $600 and a year’s license suspension for a first offense to mandatory jail terms for repeat offenders. Get caught more than twice and it’s three strikes and you’re out – in Ontario, that means a lifetime license suspension.

Where To Get A Ride Home If You’ve Had Too Much

The T.T.C. will run extra buses and subway cars until just after 2:30am. GO, Durham, Mississauga, York and Brampton Transit are all free of charge for the night. Click here for more.

Keys to Us is a pay service that guarantees a designated driver will be available to chauffeur you and your car home. Rates vary depending on how far away you are from the party to your door. Click here to find out more.

Taxis will be ramping up extra staff to try and service as many people as possible. But if you want one, call early. They’ll be booked solid until the wee hours of the morning and flagging one down may not be so easy.

How breathalyzers work

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