BEST PERSONAL BREATHALYZERS | NOVEMBER 2018

Ensure you always drink responsibly by consulting a personal breathalyzer before you order another drink or get behind the wheel to drive home. Here at ReviewLab, we took a look at the best breathalyzers in a variety of categories – including keychain breathalyzers, breathalyzers that don’t need recalibration, and professional-grade breathalyzers – to identify the best products in each group. Our selection represents a wide range of brands and price points. Read more about our methodology.

Best Overall

89

The BACtrack S80 Professional Breathalyzer gives police-grade readings at a fraction of the cost of police breathalyzers. Users say advanced fuel-cell technology allows the unit to take readings with a margin of error as little as ±.001.

Read full review.

Best Value

91

Keep an eye on your alcohol intake with the affordable MrLi Alcohol Breathalyzer. This budget breathalyzer gives an accurate reading to within ±0.01 of your actual blood alcohol content (BAC), making it ideal for estimating a fluctuating BAC during a night of drinking.

Read full review.

Best by Category

Best Keychain Personal Breathalyzer

84

The BACtrack Portable Keychain Breathalyzer reminds you to check your blood alcohol content before putting that key in the ignition. This breathalyzer, which has an accuracy ±0.01, is also a fun party favor that reminds your guests to drink responsibly.

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Best Personal Breathalyzer that Doesn't Need Recalibration

90

Most breathalyzers need to be calibrated every year. Not the AlcoMate REVO. This police-grade breathalyzer, which gives blood alcohol content readings with an accuracy of ±0.005, lasts years (and hundreds of reads) without requiring calibration.

Read full review.
86

The AlcoMate Premium AL7000 reads blood alcohol content (BAC) to within ±0.01, which is accurate enough to determine your approximate level of intoxication and impairment. Best of all – no calibration is necessary. Get reliable BAC estimates without committing to a complicated maintenance routine.

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Best Professional-Grade Personal Breathalyzer

90

Get professional-grade results without breaking the bank with the MARS Portable Alcohol Breath Tester. This personal breathalyzer unit – approved by the DOT and NHTSA – balances quality and affordability to estimate your blood alcohol content with an accuracy of ±0.01.

Read full review.

Personal Breathalyzers BUYING GUIDE

  • KEY CONSIDERATIONS

    Accuracy

    No breathalyzer is perfectly accurate, but some are very close. Others offer only estimations. If you’re looking for accurate readings, choose a breathalyzer with a margin or error of close to ±0.001, which is the maximum margin allowed for police-grade breathalyzers. Beware, however, of models that guarantee perfect accuracy. Unfortunately, perfect breathalyzer readings don’t exist. If you’re looking for a good way to keep an eye on your drinking, but don’t need precise readings, less accurate breathalyzers are far less expensive. In general, breathalyzers with fuel cell technology, rather than semiconductor technology, are more accurate.

    Legal Standards

    If a breathalyzer meets certain legal standards set by the Department of Transportation (DOT), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the U.S. Coast Guard, it’s accurate enough for police use in the United States. For the best quality equipment and the highest accuracy readings, look for breathalyzers that are approved by DOT, NHTSA, the Coast Guard, or similar government bodies in other countries. While these models are typically more expensive, they give accurate blood alcohol content readings that match police readings.

    Calibration

    Most breathalyzers need to be calibrated in a lab at least once a year to remain accurate. If you’re using your breathalyzer more than one time per day or fewer than one time every three months, it’s more likely to need frequent calibration. While most breathalyzers need calibration, sending the breathalyzer away for calibration can be a hassle for people who use a breathalyzer for personal use only. Before choosing a breathalyzer, be sure to check how often it needs to be sent away for calibration.

  • PRICE BREAKDOWN

    From keychain party favors to sleek NHTSA-approved devices, breathalyzers come in all grades and sizes. The least expensive breathalyzers cost as little as $30, although manufacturers usually don’t guarantee completely accurate readings for these affordable devices. Mid-range breathalyzers give more accurate readings but, typically, cost between $70 and $150. For somewhere between $150 and $300, you can purchase a professional-grade breathalyzer like the one your police department uses. Most breathalyzers need to be calibrated – a process that costs around $25 – at least once a year. Breathalyzers that don’t need calibration typically fall into the $150 to $300 price range.

FULL product reviews

We research hundreds of products in order to bring you a final, unbiased list of the very best. We also use a proprietary algorithm to score each product in terms of quality, value, and brand reputation. These subscores are then weighted to calculate our overall scores. Read more about how we calculate our scores.

450 products
considered
7K RATINGS
ANALYZED
22 research
hours

Best Overall

TOP PICK

BACtrack S80

Protect yourself and your loved ones with the BACtrack S80 Professional Breathalyzer. Thousands of people trust this celebrated breathalyzer to give accurate readings that help them decide whether or not to have another drink or to get behind the wheel of a car. Consumers aren’t the only ones who trust BACtrack’s personal breathalyzers. Both the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) give this tried-and-true unit their stamp of approval.

  • 89overall
  • 92quality
  • 74value
  • 87brand

Why We Recommend It

  • Gives accurate readings with fuel-cell technology. Expert reviewers rave about this breathalyzer’s pinpoint accuracy. According to these reviewers, the device gives readings with an accuracy of ±0.001. That puts this personal breathalyzer on par with the professional-grade devices that police departments use.
  • Approved by the DOT and the NHTSA. Use this personal breathalyzer with confidence, since it meets strict DOT and NHTSA requirements.
  • Portable. Store this compact breathalyzer in the glove compartment of your car or tuck it away in your purse or pocket during a night of drinking.
  • Thirty-day guarantee. One-year warranty. BACtrack’s 30-day guarantee lets you try this personal breathalyzer risk-free. Its one-year warranty protects you against the occasional defective device.
  • Typically lasts three to five years. When calibrated regularly, reviewers say that this breathalyzer lasts between three to five years.

Other Considerations

  • Requires calibration every six to 12 months. BACtrack recommends you calibrate this personal breathalyzer every six to 12 months. If you skip too many calibrations, reviewers confirm that the device becomes unusable.
  • Requires know-how to use. Unless you’ve used a personal breathalyzer before, it may take some time to pick up the correct technique. Wait at least 10 minutes after finishing your drink to test yourself and remember to blow into the mouthpiece slowly.

Best Value

TOP PICK

MrLi Alcohol Breathalyzer

The MrLi Alcohol Breathalyzer is an affordable way to watch your alcohol intake. The unit utilizes inexpensive semiconductor technology to estimate blood alcohol content (BAC) to within ±0.01 of the actual level. The device is ideal for monitoring a changing BAC during a night out, where estimates give you a clear understanding of your levels of impairment. It’s also ideal for drivers who can only legally operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.00.

  • 91overall
  • 91quality
  • 98value
  • 88brand

Why We Recommend It

  • Provides reliable blood alcohol estimates with semiconductor technology. Estimate your BAC with accuracy using this breathalyzer. While the unit doesn’t claim to give police-grade readings, it does provide estimates that help you pace yourself.
  • Portable. Reviewers like the size of this compact breathalyzer. Store it in the glove compartment of your car or tuck it away in your purse for easy access at the bar.
  • Eighteen-month warranty. MrLi’s eighteen-month warranty protects you against defective devices for a longer period of time than other brands.

Other Considerations

  • Requires calibration, but doesn’t offer the service. Like most breathalyzers, this one has to be recalibrated, however, MrLi doesn’t provide a calibration service. Find a third-party calibration service or get rid of the device after one year.
  • There is a learning curve. Unless you’ve used a breathalyzer before, it may take some time to pick up the correct technique. Wait 10 minutes after finishing your drink to test yourself and blow into the mouthpiece gently and consistently.
  • Scratches easily. Reviewers say this device scratches easily. Some say that their device came with scratches.

BEST BY CATEGORY

Best Keychain Personal Breathalyzer

why buy?

Always have a breathalyzer close at hand with a super-portable keychain personal breathalyzer. Every time you reach for your keys, this miniature breathalyzer reminds you to check your blood alcohol content before getting behind the wheel. Since keychain breathalyzers are ultra-portable, it’s also easy to share the product with your friends. These inexpensive breathalyzers make great party favors and entertaining bar games that also encourage responsible drinking. Keychain breathalyzers are the least invasive way to make sure you and your friends stay safe.

Top Pick

BACtrack Portable Keychain Breathalyzer

Ensure that you’re always sober before you get behind the wheel. This super portable breathalyzer attaches to your key ring so whenever you get your keys out, you get out your breathalyzer too. The unit is particularly useful for people who can only drive legally with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.00, since it’s most accurate at estimating total sobriety. This inexpensive semiconductor breathalyzer, which comes in a variety of colors, is also a great party favor that encourages guests to drink responsibly.

  • 84overall
  • 85quality
  • 80value
  • 87brand

Why We Recommend It

  • Reliable BAC estimates with semiconductor technology. Estimate your BAC with accuracy using this breathalyzer. While the unit doesn’t claim to give police-grade readings, reviewers say it estimates to within ±0.01 of the real value.
  • Highly portable. Attach this highly portable device to your keys to remind yourself to do a reading before you get behind the wheel. This tiny, compact breathalyzer is one of the most portable on the market.
  • Thirty-day guarantee. One-year warranty. BACtrack’s 30-day guarantee lets you try this keychain breathalyzer risk-free. Its one-year warranty protects you against defective devices.

Other Considerations

  • Requires calibration every six to 12 months. BACtrack recommends you calibrate this personal breathalyzer every six to 12 months. If you skip calibrations, reviewers warn the device becomes useless.
  • Battery issues. Reviewers say that, particularly at first, this tiny device saps the energy from its single battery quickly. Have backup AAA batteries on hand.

Best Personal Breathalyzer that Doesn't Need Recalibration

why buy?

To ensure accurate readings, most breathalyzers need to be recalibrated in a lab at least once a year. Not these personal breathalyzers though. Breathalyzers that don’t need recalibration save you time, money, and piece of mind. While these breathalyzers typically cost more than other breathalyzers, they do not have ongoing lab costs. If you’re planning to keep your breathalyzer for several years, a personal breathalyzer that doesn’t need recalibration often provides the best value.

Top Pick

AlcoMate REVO Police-Caliber Breathalyzer

The AlcoMate REVO Police-Caliber Breathalyzer delivers the critically accurate readings of other professional-grade units, without the associated maintenance costs. This breathalyzer recalibrates itself using advanced PRISM technology, giving accurate readings for years. This low-maintenance, highly-reliable unit is trusted by the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy. It’s also approved for personal use by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

  • 90overall
  • 95quality
  • 52value
  • 89brand

Why We Recommend It

  • Gives critically accurate readings with fuel-cell technology. Reviewers rave about this breathalyzer’s pinpoint accuracy. The police-grade device gives readings within ±0.005 of your actual blood alcohol content. That makes this personal breathalyzer almost as accurate as the devices that police departments use.
  • Approved by the DOT, the NHTSA, and the U.S. Coast Guard. Use this personal breathalyzer with confidence since it meets strict DOT and NHTSA requirements.
  • Does not need to be calibrated. Unlike virtually every other fuel-cell breathalyzer, this device does not need to be calibrated every year. Reviewers say that, although the breathalyzer may need calibration every three to four years, it stays accurate without calibration for long stretches of time.
  • Portable. Store this iPhone-sized breathalyzer in the glove compartment of your car or tuck it away in your purse for easy access.
  • Typically lasts more than three years. Reviewers say that this reliable device lasts for more than three years.

Other Considerations

  • Requires know-how to use. Unless you’ve used a breathalyzer before, it may take some time to pick up the correct technique. Wait 10 minutes after finishing your drink to test yourself and blow into the mouthpiece gently.
RUNNER-UP

AlcoMate Premium AL7000

Monitor your blood alcohol content (BAC) with this low-maintenance breathalyzer from AlcoMate. The breathalyzer is powered with semiconductor technology that estimates your BAC to within ±0.01. While other breathalyzers require calibration in a lab every year, this unit self-calibrates using cutting-edge PRISM technology. The result: years of accurate readings without a single visit to the lab. On semiconductor breathalyzers, the sensor modules are the first things to go. The sensor modules on this unit are easy to replace so that, when the sensors fail, you can replace them and continue to use this unit.

  • 86overall
  • 88quality
  • 72value
  • 85brand

Why We Recommend It

  • Gives reliable blood alcohol estimates with semiconductor technology. Estimate your BAC with accuracy using this breathalyzer. While it doesn’t claim to give police-grade readings, reviewers say it estimates to within ±0.01 of the real value.
  • Approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the U.S. Coast Guard. Use this personal breathalyzer with confidence since it meets strict DOT and NHTSA requirements.
  • Does not need to be calibrated regularly. Unlike virtually every other semiconductor breathalyzer, this device does not need to be calibrated every year. Reviewers say that, although the breathalyzer may need calibration after several years, it stays accurate without calibration for long periods of time.
  • Portable. Store this iPhone-sized breathalyzer in the glove compartment of your car or tuck it away in your purse or pocket for easy access.
  • Features replaceable sensor modules for a long life. The sensor modules are, typically, the first thing to go on semiconductor-powered breathalyzers. Luckily, it’s easy to replace this breathalyzer’s sensor modules after the suggested 200 readings.

Other Considerations

  • Learning curve. Unless you’ve used a breathalyzer before, it may take some time to pick up the correct technique. Wait 10 minutes after finishing your drink to test yourself, then, and blow into the mouthpiece gently and consistently.

Best Professional-Grade Personal Breathalyzer

why buy?

Get an accurate reading – every time – with a professional-grade personal breathalyzer. Cheap breathalyzers give estimations, not exact readings. While estimations do help you drink responsibly, they don’t protect you against legal action. Police use professional-grade breathalyzers like these to determine DUIs. If you’re using a professional-grade model, it’s easier to ensure that you only get behind the wheel when your blood alcohol content is below the legal limit. A high-quality personal breathalyzer ensures your safety and keeps you out of legal trouble.

Top Pick

MARS Portable Alcohol Breath Tester

While the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) trust this personal breathalyzer as they would a professional breathalyzer, the MARS Portable Alcohol Breath Tester costs a fraction of what a professional unit costs. Get accurate BAC estimates of ±0.01 with this transportation authority approved device. Since it’s best at calculating absolute sobriety (a BAC of 0.00), this unit is perfect for people who can’t drive legally with any alcohol in their blood.

  • 90overall
  • 92quality
  • 79value
  • 83brand

Why We Recommend It

  • Gives accurate estimates with fuel-cell technology. Reviewers say that this breathalyzer is reliable and accurate. The police-grade device gives readings within ±0.01 of your actual blood alcohol content. That makes this personal breathalyzer almost as accurate as the devices police departments use.
  • Approved by the DOT and the NHTSA. Use this personal breathalyzer with confidence since it meets strict DOT and NHTSA requirements.
  • Portable. Store this light, compact breathalyzer in the glove compartment of your car or tuck it away in your purse or pocket for easy access.

Other Considerations

  • Requires calibration every six to 12 months. BACtrack recommends you calibrate this personal breathalyzer every six to 12 months. If you skip too many calibrations, the device becomes useless.
  • Requires know-how to use. Unless you’ve used a breathalyzer before, it may take some time to pick up the correct technique. Wait 10 minutes after finishing your drink to test yourself and, then, blow into the mouthpiece gently and deliberately.