Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Breath-Test Kits Are Unreliable; STEVE HUGHES Rounds Up the Week's Motoring News in a Nutshell

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Breath-Test Kits Are Unreliable; STEVE HUGHES Rounds Up the Week's Motoring News in a Nutshell

Article excerpt

Byline: STEVE HUGHES

MILLIONS of motorists could risk losing their licences this Christmas if they rely on the plethora of cheap breath-test kits flooding the market.

Police say that the alcotesters are mass-produced to the lowest standards to make them as cheap as possible and are useless as a result.

Millions of motorists buy them from shops and garages in the mistaken belief that they will indicate when they are approaching the drink-drive limit.

Police say that this encourages drivers to drink up to the limit, but that the breath tests are so inaccurate they give false readings more often than not.

The main problem - apart from encouraging drivers to drink more than they would otherwise - is that the false readings almost always suggest that the user is under rather than over the limit.

This is because the technology is so cheap that the efficiency dwindles almost immediately and after just a few uses the breath testers become incapable of reacting to alcohol and give incorrect readings.

They are also extremely susceptible to the slightest contamination, which drastically lessens their ability to detect and react to the presence of alcohol.

Insp Russell Clark says: "The worry is that friends and relatives will buy these breath testers, which cost from just pounds 2.50, as stocking fillers for loved ones.

"However, they are completely unreliable and they encourage people to drink to the max, which means that many drivers may be misled into driving while over the limit.

"Anyone who is stopped for drink-driving will automatically lose their licence for a minimum of six months. If someone was to cause a death as a result of drink-driving, they are looking at a possible 14-year prison sentence.

"Readings from handheld breathalysers are no defence in court.

There is no safe level for drinking and driving, aside from not drinking at all."

The inefficiency of the cheap selftest kits is highlighted in a series of independent tests carried out by Parker's in association with the police and Medacx, which is an official supplier of police roadside breathalysers. …

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