Listen to this article

Advertiser Disclosure

 

A personal breathalyzer can ensure your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is under the legal limit to drive home after a long night at the bar. To help you decide which device among the thousands of breathalyzers on the market best fits your needs, we put together reviews of the five best breathalyzers on Amazon.

 

In this article:


Review Standards

The breathalyzers in this article are organized by various criteria. We started by researching the best breathalyzers on Amazon, looking at factors such as average customer rating, number of customer reviews, price, Amazon superlatives, and Prime shipping eligibility. 

Additionally, we explored the overall innovation of design and feedback from users of the different products.


#1 Best Overall: BACtrack S80 Breathalyzer

 
 

We gave the BACtrack S80 professional breathalyzer the top spot among best breathalyzers because of its reliability and ease of use. This device is comparable to high-end breathalyzers that police departments use, ensuring you’ll get accurate results every time.

The BACtrack S80 comes ready, with six reusable mouthpieces and two AA batteries. With these items on hand, you can set up the BACtrack S80 and use it immediately.

Key Features

  • 2.00 x 0.75 x 4.75-inch, black body
  • Six reusable mouthpieces
  • Slot for two AA batteries
  • Platinum fuel cell alcohol sensor
  • One-year warranty
  • Approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 

What Customers Are Saying

Over 5,300 Amazon customers have reviewed this product, giving it an average score of 4.6 stars out of 5. Customers rave about this breathalyzer’s accuracy, and some have compared it to police-issued breathalyzers they used on the job. Customers also compare the BACtrack S80 to the BAC table, which determines your intoxication level based on your weight and drinks consumed.

Per the instructions, this breathalyzer gives accurate readings as long as you wait 15 minutes after your last drink to test. Some customers have complained the product only lasts for about 200 reads, saying they had to contact the company and pay a recalibration fee. This often didn’t work, however, leaving customers without a working product and out of the money they spent on the recalibration.

What Is It Good For?

It is hard to put a price tag on the assurance of knowing you’re under the legal limit for a DUI charge. With a list of federal approvals and a simple format, it's hard to argue the BACtrack S80 isn’t worth the price tag.


#2 Most Portable: BACtrack C6 Keychain Breathalyzer

 
 

This is BACtrack’s most portable breathalyzer and our overall second-best breathalyzer. You can attach it to your keys or leave it loose in your bag or pocket. Either way, you can bring it with you on every trip to the bar and not worry about it taking up much space.

This device also comes with a Bluetooth option where you can connect it to your smartphone and track how long it will take for you to be sober or order an Uber.

Key Features

  • 2.21 x 0.66 x 1.88-inch, white body
  • Built-in mouthpiece
  • Slot for one AAA battery
  • Platinum fuel cell alcohol sensor
  • Keychain
  • Optional Bluetooth connectivity to Android and iPhone smartphones
  • Estimation of when your BAC will be 0.00% with app
  • One-year warranty

What Customers Are Saying

This product received an average Amazon score of 4.4 stars from over 3,700 customers, including many who highlighted the breathalyzer's compact nature. Customers also like how you can pair the BACtrack C6 to your phone. The app offers some unique features, such as telling you how long it will take until your BAC is 0.00% and allowing you to order an Uber. However, some customers say the reading was too low for how much they drank, and others say an error message kept appearing when they blew into the breathalyzer.

What Is It Good For?

You can use the BACtrack C6 as a keychain or easily fit it inside a bag or pocket. But if you're too drunk to drive, you should call an Uber. This breathalyzer just helps expedite the process.


#3 Most Affordable: Rofeer Digital Blue LED Screen Portable Breathalyzer

 
 

Rofeer’s breathalyzer is cheaper than others, costing less than half the amount of some BACtrack models. This device's ability to gauge intoxication in five measurements means people around the world can use this product.

The Rofeer not only shows your reading, but it also flashes green, yellow, or red and beeps one, two, or three times, depending on whether you are sober, still safe to drive, or not safe to drive.

Key Features

  • 4.84 x 2.17 x 0.75-inch, black body
  • Five reusable mouthpieces
  • Slot for three AAA batteries
  • Black cloth bag
  • Five measurement units
  • Color and sounds change for BAC ranges

What Customers Are Saying

Almost 3,000 Amazon customers give this breathalyzer an average rating of 3.9 stars. Customers appreciate this product's affordability, and some even compare it to more expensive options while noting their BAC results were similar if not the same.

A few buyers say they received a Rofeer that appeared previously used. Other customers claim the Rofeer's readings aren't always accurate because they've been completely sober and gotten a false positive.

What Is It Good For?

The Rofeer would make a great, inexpensive gift for a newly-turned 21-year-old just learning their alcohol limits. This is perhaps the best breathalyzer to keep handy at a party since it comes with multiple mouthpieces so different people can use it.


#4: BACtrack Trace Breathalyzer

 
 

The BACtrack trace professional breathalyzer is designed to detect any trace of alcohol. While most breathalyzers only measure two decimal points, this one measures three.

After blowing for five seconds and waiting for ten, you will receive your detailed reading. The device even saves your last 10 readings so you can keep track of your alcohol intake.

Key Features

  • 1.87 x 0.63 x 4.25-inch, black body
  • Slot for disposable mouthpieces
  • Slot for two AAA batteries
  • Platinum fuel cell alcohol sensor
  • Saves your last 10 readings
  • One-year warranty

What Customers Are Saying

More than 1,100 Amazon customers have reviewed this product, giving it an average score of 4.5 stars. Customers say the BACtrack trace seems to read your BAC level more accurately than breathalyzers that only read two decimal points.

Several BACtrack trace reviews recommend switching out the mouthpiece or rinsing it out between uses to increase accuracy because the alcohol can build up in the straw, causing the reading to increase with each use. Some customers complain about the BACtrack trace picking up a reading after they've used mouthwash, but this is likely due to the reader being more detailed.

What Is It Good For? 

This product is geared toward a user who wants accuracy over everything, making it one of the best breathalyzers available. Its recall data is helpful in tracking your overall BAC level after just one or two drinks.


#5: BACtrack C8 Breathalyzer

 
 

This breathalyzer looks and works like the C6 model, except it is slightly larger. The size of the C8 allows you to use the device instead of the mobile app to see how long it will take you to be sober.

If you want to see your BAC readings on a larger screen and have access to other features, such as ordering an Uber, you can still connect the C8 to your phone via Bluetooth.

Key Features

  • 2.50 x 0.66 x 2.20-inch, white body
  • Built-in mouthpiece
  • Slot for one AAA battery
  • Platinum fuel cell alcohol sensor
  • Optional Bluetooth connectivity to smartphone
  • Estimation of when your BAC will be 0.00%
  • One-year warranty

What Customers Are Saying

This product has an average rating of 4.5 stars after just over 1,700 Amazon customer reviews. Several customers mention being longtime BACtrack users. Some have previously owned the C6 version but like the C8 better because it is a little larger, enabling you to use the reader rather than the app to see how long it will take you to be sober.

Some customers say the results on the C8 are less accurate than other BACtrack breathalyzers, which means it’s not the best option for drivers with previous DUIs. These same drivers want to check their BAC level before blowing into the breathalyzers built into their cars.

What Is It Good For? 

If you want connectivity and functionality, BACtrack’s step up from the keychain is a smart choice and maybe the best breathalyzer for you. Having the direct line to Uber is a winner here, and we like being able to view more on the device than the smartphone app.

The 5 Best Breathalyzers (2020 Review)

Breathalyzer Buying Guide

Before choosing among the best breathalyzers, consider how these factors will affect the accuracy of your device.

Sensor Type

Breathalyzers use different types of sensors. More accurate and expensive devices will use a fuel cell sensor, while cheaper and less accurate ones will use a semiconductor sensor.

  • Fuel Cell Sensor: This sensor measures the concentration of alcohol molecules in the breath of the user. All of the BACtrack models in this review use this type of sensor.
  • Infrared Optical Sensor: This type measures how the alcohol molecules absorb infrared light.
  • Semiconductor Oxide Sensor: This type is used by the less expensive personal breathalyzers. The device has a semiconductor inside with a small electrical current. Every time you blow into it, the breathalyzer will measure how the alcohol changes the current when it reaches the semiconductor.

Design Type

The design of the device also plays a role in the reading’s accuracy.

  • Active: Devices with this design have mouthpieces you blow in. The mouthpiece prevents contamination from outside air, so you get a more accurate reading. All of the devices in this review use a mouthpiece.
  • Passive: A breathalyzer with this design usually has you blow across an opening. Because you aren’t blowing directly into it, the reading is subject to contamination.

Replaceable mouthpieces also mean less chance of contamination and more accurate results. One-button operation and an LCD screen have also become common features of the best breathalyzers.

Calibration

Your device will come calibrated and ready to use. However, over time, the device’s alcohol concentration readings will become less accurate, and you will need to get the device re-calibrated.

Cost

Buying a breathalyzer isn’t just a one-time expense, but it requires continuous maintenance to run properly.

Device

The device will cost between $20 and $200. We didn’t include any cheap breathalyzers in this review because they tend to be less accurate, but we did include mid-to-top range devices.

Mouthpiece

If your device has an active design, you will need a mouthpiece. Your device typically comes with at least one mouthpiece, but you will need to replace it over time to avoid cross-contamination from previous readings. New ones typically cost 50 cents to $1 each, but you can buy them in bulk.

Battery

Batteries power breathalyzers. Most breathalyzers come with batteries to get you started, but when those batteries die, you will need new ones to continue using the device. Battery life will vary among devices, although some higher-end models have rechargeable batteries. 

Recalibration

When it’s time to recalibrate your device, you will usually pay $15-$50 to send your device back to the company.


FAQ: Best Breathalyzers

How do you use a breathalyzer?

Instructions vary, depending on the product.

How often should I calibrate my breathalyzer?

This will depend on the breathalyzer, but you should recalibrate most breathalyzers every six to twelve months, or sooner if you use it frequently. You must send most devices back to the company for recalibration, but newer ones allow you to purchase another precalibrated unit to replace the old one.

Are personal breathalyzers accurate?

Personal breathalyzers aren’t as accurate as ones that members of law enforcement use, but if you buy a high-grade breathalyzer with excellent sensor technology, you will get a reading that is close.

How do you trick a breathalyzer?

Some people may try tactics such as hyperventilating before blowing into the mouthpiece in an attempt to lower the reading. However, we recommend only having one or two drinks or using an Uber or Lyft instead of trying to cheat the test.

What breathalyzer brand do police use?

Digital breathalyzers such as the BACtrack S80 have police-grade accuracy, and law enforcement officers use them. The NHTSA publishes a list of DOT-approved breath alcohol testers with high-accuracy test results.

Are store-bought breathalyzers accurate?

The accuracy of an alcohol level reading depends on the quality of the gadget. Breathalyzers with fuel cell sensor modules offer professional-grade accuracy.

What do breathalyzers detect? 

Whether the breathalyzer is intended for personal use or utilized by law enforcement, all breathalyzers measure an individual’s BAC level. The technology behind how a breathalyzer tests BAC differs by manufacturer. Some use semiconductor chips, others use fuel cells, and specialized models, often found at police stations, use spectrophotometers. 

How long are breathalyzers able to test for alcohol?

The alcohol testing period on most devices starts around 15 minutes after your first drink. Many breathalyzers can test BAC levels for 12 to 24 hours, depending on how long it takes the person to metabolize the alcohol.