December 15, 2005

Alcohawk Breathalyzer Review

We're big proponents of breathalyzers here at the Liquor Snob offices, because we think their judicious use can really help you keep out of trouble. One of the biggest names in the consumer breathalyzer industry is Alcohawk from Q3 Innovations, which offers a large line of these Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) testers at varying price points.

A couple months ago we covered the Alcohawk Micro keychain breathalyzer, which has been very popular with our readers, and now we've rounded up three more Alcohawk models for review and comparison. We've outlined the statistics of each model, as well as our favorite features, and then compared them to one another as well so you'll have the information you need when you buy your own.

Breathalyzer Information: On paper, all three of these units are very similar. They're all compact enough to fit in your palm, and weigh in at less than half a pound. They all come with extra mouthpieces, in case you're testing multiple people. They all use sensitive semiconductor technology in their testing, which is pretty much as accurate as you can get without getting up into the professional testers, which cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Also, they all test BAC up to 0.4, which is a heck of a lot higher than the typical legal limit of 0.08.

Alcohawk Elite
Typical Price: $139.95
Amazon: Q3I ELITE DIGITAL ALCOHOL BREATH TESTER
Q3ATS: Product Page
Alcohawk EliteNotes: At first we were impatient with the Elite's 60 second warm-up time, because we wanted to blow into it NOW! Then we realized the wait probably had something to do with calibration, and we decided we'd rather have it be accurate than quick. We blew into it for the requisite 5 seconds, and a few seconds later it had responded with a BAC down to 3 decimal points (.027 after our first double).

We were impressed with how pimped out this thing was, with a blue LED readout and an internal thermometer to make sure your readout is as accurate as possible, not thrown off by temperature factors. The battery is good for 100-200 testings.

Alcohawk ABI
Typical Price: $109.95
Amazon: Alcohawk ABI Digital Alcohol Breath Tester
Q3ATS: Product Page
Alcohawk ABINotes: The first thing that struck us about the ABI was the cool protective zipper case it came in. The other two units were in disposable plastic trays with accompanying mesh carrying bags, but this guy was in a hard shell carrying case, just in case we wanted to do any EXTREME testing. Next time we use it, we'll make sure we're at the top of a mountain or jumping out of a plane.

We were also big fans of the shorter load time, closer to 20 seconds than the full minute we got from the Elite, but the ABI only gave us info down to two decimal places, so that's the tradeoff. But honestly, how many decimals do you need for what you'll be using it for? Another high point is the fact that this puppy is good for more than 300 tests on one battery. Now that's a lot of drinkin'. Oh, and plus, it comes with an AC adaptor, so you can test and drive at the same time. Just kidding.

Alcohawk Precision
Typical Price: $79.95
Amazon: Alcohawk Precision Digital Alcohol Breath Tester
Q3ATS: Product Page
Alcohawk PrecisionNotes: The warm-up time on the Precision splits the difference between the Elite and the ABI, at about 45 seconds. Like the Elite, the readout is to three decimal places, but we did find that the readout on the Precision clocked a bit lower than what we got from the Elite on occasion. According to the paperwork we got with our Precision it offers the same accuracy as the other models, so it may have been drunken operator error that caused the problem.

Our Favorite: We liked all three of these products. They all felt well-constructed, and we trusted the results we got, especially the consistency. All in all, the three of them gave us a good feel for how tipsy we were, and we felt they let us guage our drunkenness much more accurately than the old "Was that girl hot 20 minutes ago" test.

If we have to pick one as our favorite, however, we have to go with the ABI as our favorite, mostly because of the snazzy carrying case and the AC adaptor. Plug it in before you go to the bar, and wind the cord around the steering wheel as a reminder for a loved one who likes to drive a little on the sloshed side, maybe? Sounds like a good idea to us.

Get more information on these and other breathalyzers, plus buy your own, at Q3 Innovations, which offers a lot of helpful information on their site, including tips on how to choose a breathalyzer. There is also BAC cheat sheet by weight, as well as info on BAC limits by state. The legal limit is .08 almost across the board, but there are some slight variations by state for BAC content and the penalties for exceeding the legal limit. You can also compare and buy breathalyzers at Amazon where you can read other consumer reviews.

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Posted by Jake Jamieson at December 15, 2005 5:33 AM
Recent Comments

Readers may like to know that these are also now available in Europe via the official Q3i Distributor in the UK, AlcoDigital.co.uk


Posted by: Ben Wirrel at September 18, 2010 12:38 PM

As to the "Legal limit" stated in the last paragraph of your article titled - Alcohawk Breathalyzer Review, dated 15Dec2005, .08 is not the "Legal limit". It is the "Illegal limit"! Not counting all the Under the influence laws that different states have but, .08 is the limit that one is charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), making it the "illegal limit". I have been charged with this and have had to attend the classes and get the lectures. I know this article was written some time ago but, I just read it and so could so many others.

I did like the article and found it useful for I plan to buy myself a personal breathalyzer for my 45th birthday, very soon.


Posted by: William at January 19, 2009 7:12 PM
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