If you’ve used a breathalyzer in a bar before heading home after a night of drinking, you know what it’s like to pop a toonie in the machine and hope for the best blood alcohol reading possible. In addition to providing breath samples, these machines advertise that they’re raising funds for charity. But in this case, the user should beware: the only thing you may end up with after putting your money in the machine is an inaccurate blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading and a feeling of being ripped off.
It all started when the Red Cross was contacted about the breathalyzer machines appearing in Saint Johns bars. The bar owners agreed to have the breathalyzer installed on the condition the devices would benefit a local charity, and the Red Cross was named as the charity. The machines clearly display signage indicating that funds raised will be going to the Red Cross.
But the Red Cross says there is no formal agreement between the owner of the breathalyzers and the charity, and that none of the proceeds from the breathalyzer were donated to them. The Red Cross called the company that owned the machines, but didn’t get a definitive answer as to why they said they were donating the proceeds but didn’t. A news crew also contacted the company, and they said the Red Cross didn’t want the money as it came from alcohol sales.
Although the direction of donated cash flow is up for debate, the accuracy of these machines is not. Because these breathalyzers are similar in design to pocket or portable breathalyzers, they can’t stand up to the accuracy and technology behind a police grade breathalyzer or an ignition interlock device. Both police grade breathalyzers and ignition interlock devices are made with the latest in fuel cell technology and are calibrated regularly, so unlike a portable breathalyzer, they’re both fast and accurate.
Police in Saint Johns want bar patrons to be aware that their toonie isn’t going to charity, but more importantly, they want the public to know not to base their drive home on a breathalyzer device hanging on a bar wall. It could mean the difference between walking in your front door safe and sound because you found a sober driver, or receiving an impaired driving charge because you didn’t.