Breathtaking way to check alcohol levels before leaving the pub
IT'S the biggest excuse for drunk-driving: "I thought I was under the limit".
As a result of too many people underestimating their alcohol consumption, Ipswich watering holes are now helping people play it safe.
An increasing number of bars and clubs across the region are installing breathalyser machines to let patrons - if they choose - test their blood-alcohol levels before driving.
To enable it to work, customers insert $2 and out pops a straw to stick into a slot.
Then the customer blows into it, just like a normal breathalyser, and seconds later the BAC level flashes on screen.
The machines are being brought in by a new Brisbane-based business called BreathPatrol.
The company's founder and owner Garth McNeil said the machine provided patrons with a chance to "check themselves before they wreck themselves".
"Almost always, people have no idea what their blood alcohol levels are when out drinking and sometimes just assume they're okay to drive," he said.
"But when they take a breath test on one of these machines, they're often surprised to learn what their levels really are.
"Testing yourself with one of these devices could cost you a lot less than what the police might charge you."
Mr McNeil said each machine was equipped with state-of-the-art, police-grade fuel cell sensors.
"However these breathalysers don't keep a record of the test," he said. "So although they are very accurate, their results can't be used as evidence in court, since there is no readout.
"Legally a breath sample is only permissible in court if administered by a police officer or an agent of the government.
"These machines are to be used purely as a guide."
In the past few months, Mr McNeil has installed machines in numerous venues including Brothers Leagues Club, Ipswich Jets RLFC, The Glades Tavern and Yamanto Tavern.
Brothers Leagues Club general manager Mark Hennelly said the machine had proved to be an effective tool in making sure patrons made it home safely.
"We obviously don't want people drinking here then driving home when they're over the limit," he said.
"Which is why we were keen to install this machine and why we also have our courtesy buses."
Road Policing Command acting inspector Shane Panho said he welcomed any device that helped people make an informed decision about drinking and driving.
However he added that some breathalyser machines could give inaccurate results if they weren't calibrated properly.
"From a police point of view, our recommendation is, if you plan to drink even one alcoholic beverage, don't risk driving," he said.
"Each year alcohol and drug driving is a contributing factor in about 20 to 25 per cent of road crashes in Queensland."
In Ipswich, 369 people were caught drink driving between January and April this year.
How much can I drink?
To keep under the BAC limit, males can drink no more than two standard drinks in the first hour - 10g of alcohol in each - followed by one standard drink every hour after that.
However, females can drink no more than one standard drink every hour.
It is important to also remember that these are only guidelines and the BAC is also affected by other factors such as body size, age, level of fitness and liver state.