Devices test for sobriety level

If you’ll be going to a party during the holiday season, or giving one, you might find it convenient to carry one of the new tests that analyze blood alcohol.
The makers of these tests say it’s never smart to drink and drive. If you can’t arrange a designated driver, however, a test could make sense for you.
The Guardian Angel Personal Alcohol Test is available in drug and grocery stores nationally. For $1.49, the product lets you test your blood alcohol content by licking a chemically treated paper strip. (Police in several states gave the strips to motorists over Labor Day Weekend.) To learn more, visit
Another popular device is the $50 purse-size breath analyzer from Sharper Image, model PSI BT550.
Researchers for Newsweek tested these two plus the $2,000 machine used by police. Subjects drank for two hours, then compared ratings. Though the manufacturers say the test is only an estimate, all three registered about the same after moderate consumption. Their advice:
* Follow the directions. The $1.49 test calls for a 10-minute wait after drinking, the other calls for a 30-minute wait. If you don’t wait, the results won’t be right.
* Get a sober person to do the test so it can be done and analyzed correctly.
* Don’t depend on numbers alone. Many people said they wouldn’t feel safe driving although their blood alcohol wasn’t up to the 0.80 legal limit.
If you’re the host, testing could be an interesting late-evening activity, and it could keep an incapacitated friend from getting behind the wheel.

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