Don't get fooled by your breathalyzer


Half of the tested breathalyzers show incorrect results. They are unreliable and do not give accurate blood alcohol levels. The test result caused Elgiganten to immediately end the sale of Sencor Breathalyzers.


Håkan Lövström Published: 20 Jun, 2022

Many summer activities include some alcohol. Even if it's just a few beers on Midsummer Eve, it can be difficult to judge whether you're fit to drive the next day.

The Motor Drivers' Sobriety Association (MHF) has a testing laboratory that is one of three accredited in the world for tests of breathalyzers. On behalf of Testfakta, MHF's test laboratory has analyzed ten brands purchased during May 2022.

-Unfortunately, there are still a number of breathalyzers sold on the Swedish market that are totally useless for measuring alcohol content, says Tomas Jonsson, CEO of MHF Test Lab.


One of these substandard breathalyzers is Sencor, which is sold at, which surprises Tomas Jonsson considering that Elgiganten is otherwise a large and serious player. A serious problem with Sencor is that the product is already miscalibrated from the factory and that there is no possibility or information about calibration at a later stage.

Testfakta contacted Elgiganten:

- That product is sold via our Marketplace, by the actor D-Dep. We will contact the actor to get their point of view as we do not know this information, says Sayna Oveisikian, communications manager at Elgiganten.

37 minutes pass, then the next email reply comes from the Elgiganten:
- Updating my reply to you regarding the product, we have now stopped selling it.

Regardless of the manufacturer and the results of our test, it is important that the breathalyzer is calibrated regularly.
- We recommend that you submit the product for calibration once a year. Otherwise, there is a high risk of incorrect measurement values, says Tomas Jonsson at MHF Test Lab.

In the test there is also a test winner (Dräger 4000) which shows almost exact values. When the machine blows out a simulated breathing air of 0.02 per cent, the test winner ends up at 0.021 per cent. Also the following three products; Alcosense Pro, Alcotrx FCA 35 and Dignita AM-7000 are practically equivalent for the purpose. For comparison, we can take Alkoholtester HB-603, which ends up in one of the bottom positions. It measured 0.00 per cent at simulated gusts of 0.02 per cent. This and the others at the bottom of the result row all have such uncertain metrics that there is an obvious risk of drunk driving.

A concrete piece of advice from Tomas Jonsson is to check before purchasing that the breathalyzer meets the international standard for this type of product, SS-EN 16280. (Or the standard for professional use SS-EN 15964.) In addition, it must be clearly stated how the product is calibrated. Most often it is sent away for calibration. 

Keep this in mind when purchasing and using a breathalyzer

* Buy a breathalyzer that is marked with the industry standard SS-EN 16280. Then there is a greater chance that you will get a good product.
* Make sure you buy a brand that includes an initial calibration so you know it's set up correctly when you start using it. It should also indicate itself when it is time to recalibrate it.
* Never use the breathalyzer as a party prop. If you expose it to strong alcohol blasts, it can overshoot and begin to measure incorrectly. You must wait at least fifteen minutes from the time you drink alcohol until you blow in it.
* Keep in mind that it can take up to an hour for beer and wine to enter the bloodstream. If you measure after only 20 minutes, the breathalyzer may show zero even though you are actually over the limit.


Facts about the test


The Motor Drivers' Sobriety Association, MHF's Test Lab, on behalf of Testfakta, has tested 10 breathalyzers purchased in stores and online. The test is performed against parts of the two industry standards SS-EN 16280:2012 (breathalyzers for private use) and SS-EN 15964:2011 (breathalyzers for police and companies). A representative selection of products has been purchased during May 2022.

The following brands are included in the selection:

* Drager 4000
* Alcosense Pro
* Alcotrx FCA 35
* Worth AM-7000
* Scandtest AM 800
* Sencor Breathalyzer
* Overmax AD-02
* Digital Breath Alcohol tester
* Alcohol tester HB-603/digital
* Digital Alcohol Tester InnovaGoods

Test parameters
The breathalyzers were tested and rated as below:

Measurement precision and repeatability
10 sober breaths were alternated with 10 breaths where the alcohol concentration in the air corresponded to 0.2 per thousand (0.1 mg/liter of air). The laboratory checked how much the measurement values ​​vary between different samples.

Deep breaths
The amount of air blown into the meter when the sample is taken is measured. For a reliable result, the sample should not be taken until after at least 1.2 liters of air.

Correct calibration
The laboratory checks that the manufacturer has set the meter correctly.

The laboratory checks whether sober blows are infected by previously intoxicated blows. This means that alcohol from previous measurements remains and gives results even though they are not supposed to.

An assessment was made of how user-friendly the product is. The meter should ideally give clear instructions on when to take the sample and clearly state the analysis time and test results.

Defects in the product
For example, if important information about calibration is missing. Or if the meter lacks a nozzle or other parts needed for reliable results.

The laboratory has rated the test results on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the best. The results have been converted to Testfakta's 10-point rating scale.
The results for the various parts have been weighted together to form a total grade with the following weight:

Measurement precision 40%
Measuring properties 40%
Manageability 20%