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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Booze, caution

Don’t hold your breath. The alcohol breathalyzer ensures that there’s no escaping when you drink and drive.
ST701 Editorial Team - November 16, 2007
By: Linda Lee
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Booze, caution

“Just blow, and don’t suck.”

Despite the straightforward instructions, I couldn’t help but feel a little awkward as I turned to face the head-turner with lean, streamlined features, pouted my lips and took a deep breath before slowly letting out an alcohol-tinged huff. Then, I waited with bated breath to see if my “mind-blowing” act would cause an upheaval, of any sort.

Three seconds was all it took, but the wait seemed an eternity. The result: a red, hot, flashing “danger” sign!

Now, don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t doing anything that would make my granny, bless her soul, blush like a beetroot. And I don’t normally drink on the job either (except in unusual circumstances, as in this particular case) or smoke.

What I was actually doing was exhaling – through a disposable straw – into an LED-lighted box, which promptly spoke to me in a crisp and cheery voice. It said: “Thank you, please wait until the machine counts down, then insert and blow steadily. Sampling is completed.”

And the red-alert flashlight only went as far as to announce the level of my alcohol intake. In the interests of researching this, imbibing some liquor was necessary to get the box to tell me: “The device detects a high level of alcohol. It is not safe to drive.”

Surely you know by now that I’m talking about a booze-level tester, don’t you?

Gadgets like these are of particular relevance in these times, as drink driving cases have been on the rise in Singapore. Between January and March this year, of the 914 motorists arrested for drink driving, 141 were involved in accidents, compared with 753 and 134 respectively in the same period last year. Statistics from the Traffic Police also show that drunk drivers were responsible for one in four fatal accidents last year, killing 25 people.

As a value-added service for their clients, entertainment centres can purchase or rent the coin-operated Alcohol Breathalyzer I exhaled into. A new Korean import shaped like a cool jukebox the size of a mini-bar, the sophisticated device offers a quick, fuss-free and accurate means of determining the alcohol concentration on one’s breath. It checks and tells you if you have more than the legal limit of 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath (the blood-alcohol equivalent is more than 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood).

The high-tech machine works using a microchip with a pre-calibrated breath-alcohol oxide sensor, good for about 500 puffs.

Installing such a gadget will make it easier for operators to spot highly intoxicated individuals, and send them home in a cab or call their families. The mere presence of the device could even serve to remind patrons to be socially responsible, to limit their alcohol intake, and use public transport after drinking.

But note that even if the appliance indicates you are under the limit, you can still be arrested for drink driving should the traffic police think you do not have sufficient control of your vehicle. Night prowlers who wish to drive after an evening of hard partying should thus not solely rely on the Alcohol Breathalyzer as a “be all, end all” indicator.

Nightspot owners interested in acquiring this product can contact its distributor, Skycom Networks for a presentation-cum-trial. And while engaging in the breathtaking exercise, remember to blow, not suck.

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