BACtrack.jpgThe holiday season is packed with parties. Whether it’s an ugly sweater party, open house or Christmas cookie bake-off, there’s always a lot of alcohol involved. We all know that everyone processes alcohol differently, a couple rum and eggnogs may hit one person harder than it hits their friend. But do those two people have the same blood alcohol concentration (BAC)? Do you know what you feel like when your BAC is 0.08%? It’s important to know that you’re under the legal limit before you get behind the wheel. An easy way to know where your BAC stands is by investing in a personal breathalyser.

A couple years ago, I had the opportunity to try a variety of BACtrack breathalyzers (Check out that article here) and this week I was back at it trying the latest addition to the BACtrack collection: the BACtrack Go Keychain Breathalyzer. When Best Buy sent me the BACtrack, I decided to take advantage of Vancouver’s great beer scene when testing it. To see how age effected breathalyzer, I took my dad with me for a little beer tour in Olympic Village. I’m going to talk about how breathalyzers work and why we use them, explain the factors that effect your blood alcohol concentration, talk about how I tested the BACtrack Go and what our resutls were and the ease of use when using the device.

How does your body process alcohol and how does a breathalyzer work?

When you drink alcohol, the alcohol moves from your stomach to your blood stream. Your liver processes about 90% of the alcohol and the rest of the alcohol continues to move through your blood stream. The same proportion of alcohol in your blood is also released into your lungs, which is how a breathalyzer is able to measure your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Your BAC is represented in number of milligrams of alcohol in 100ml of blood. For example, if your BAC is 0.04% you have approximately 40 milligrams of alcohol in 100ml of blood. Once you stop drinking, your BAC will start to decrease but this process takes time.

What affects your blood alcohol level (BAC)?

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We have all been at dinner parties and noticed that after two glasses of wine one person might barely be able to stand while another appears stone cold sober. This difference in behaviour is most likely the result of a variety of factors such as age, sex, weight and how quickly they drank each drink. There is a lot of different graphs and charts to estimate someone’s BAC based on these factors. When testing the BACtrack Go Keychain Breathalyzer, I decided to use the BAC estimation chart for males and females that Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) uses (pictured below). The chart bases BAC estimations on sex, weight and amount of drinks consumed in a certain number of hours (2, 3 or 4 hours).

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The setup of the BACtrack Go Keychain Breathalyzer was really simple. In the box you get an instruction manual, the breathalyser, a AAA battery and three removable mouthpieces. The breathalyser itself is smaller than the palm of your hand, making it discrete and easy to carry with you on your keys or in your purse. Check out my video below detailing how to setup and use the BACtrack Go Keychain Breathalyzer.

Testing the BACtrack Go

Vancouver has a great beer scene and I decided to take advantage of this when testing the BACtrack Go Keychain Breathalyzer. To have someone to compare results with, I took my dad with me for dinner and a few beers. We went to three different bars, had 1 pints of beer at each place (except for bar #1 where we couldn’t resist having 2) and because the device recommends waiting 20 minutes after eating or drinking to test your BAC, we tested our BAC and recorded our values after walking to the next place and before starting our next beer.

Stop #1: Craft Beer Market

Craft.jpgOur first stop was Craft Beer Market. This restaurant and bar is located in the large, beautifully renovated historic Salt Building in Olympic Village. It features over 100 beers on tap from both local and international breweries and a fresh, diverse menu made from locally sourced ingreIMG_20151106_190906.jpgdients. For our first beers, I went with the Grasshopper Wheat Ale from Calgary’s Big Rock Brewery and my dad had the Granville Island Pale Ale. It took us approximately 20-30 minutes to finish our first beers and we paired with some awesome tasting hot wings. With dinner, we moved onto beer #2. I went with the Blanche de Chambly from Quebec brewery Unibroue and my dad had another pint of the Granville Island Pale Ale.

Stop #2: Steel Toad Brewery

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Next on the beer tour was Steel Toad Brewery just down the street. This local brewery opened its doors about a year ago and since then it’s been offering great tasting craft beers brewed in house and high-quaIMG_20151106_205925.jpglity food, including award winning thin crust pizza. In addition to beer, this brewery also provides a wide range of spirits and wine. For beer #3, I had the Saison Sauvignon and my dad had the Yorkshire Best Bitter.

 Stop #3: Tap & Barrel

Last on our tour was Tap & Barrel, locatTap and Barrell4.jpged right around the corner on the water in Olympic Village. This restaurant and bar is loyal to the local craft beer scene, only providing beer from BC breweries. They also have a wide selection of local BC wine on tap and the comfort food themed menu is crafted in house and only uses local products. Tap & Barrel has continued to grow in popularity over the past few years and now has three locations: Olympic Village, the Convention Centre and the Shipyards in North Vancouver. One of my favorite things about theseIMG_20151106_220530.jpg locations? They have three of the best patios in Vancouver so you can enjoy great food and drink with a fantastic view! For our 4th and final beer, I had a pint of the Roggen Weizen from Victoria brewery Steel & Oak and my dad had the Rail Ale Nut Brown from Howesound Brewery in Squamish. We also couldn’t resist sharing a pound of delicious hot wings.

Our results              



As mentioned in my video, the instruction manual for the BACtrack Go recommends waiting 20 minutes after eating or drinking before using the device for the most accurate results. It took us about 30 minutes to drink each beer, so this 30 minutes, in combination with waiting 20 minutes in between each reading meant that we drank about 1 beer per hour and therefore had a total of 4 beers each in 4 hours. However, I have to confess that we cheated a little. The results listed in the MADD charts are based on a “standard drink”, or 12 oz. of beer, but all the beers that we drank were between 14 and 16 oz. What can I say, the beers were too good to leave 4 oz. left in the glass!

In terms of accuracy, my results (see chart below) were quite accurate when compared to the MADD chart, especially my final result. After 4 beers in 4 hours, the MADD chart estimated that my BAC should be 0.043% and my actual BAC result was 0.04%. However, my dad’s results were pretty off when compared to the chart. For example, after consuming 4 beers over 4 hours the chart estimates that my dad’s BAC should have been 0.040% but my dad’s breathalyser result was 0.02%. The inaccuracies could have been for a variety of reasons. My dad’s age could have affected his BAC results or perhaps his technique when using the breathalyzer. Also, my dad always used the breathalyzer after me so I wonder if using the breathalyser after me in quick succession also skewed the results.

Lucy (180 pounds)

Average BAC for 180 pound female according to MADD

Dad (165 pounds)

Average BAC for 165 pound male according to MADD

After 1 hour and Beer #1


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After 2 hours and Beer #2





After 3 hours and Beer #3





After 4 hours and Beer #4





Overall ease of use


As mentioned in my video, the BACtrack Go Keychain Breathalyzer is easy to use. You simply turn the device on, wait for the countdown (see photo on the right) to reach 2, inhale deeply and blow into the device for 5 seconds when it beeps. However, I found that I received a lot of error notifications, which could be frustrating. For example, my dad and I received the “FL” error notification a number of times. This notification appears if the user does not blow immediately after the countdown ends, if the user does not blow continuously or if the user still has alcohol in their saliva. When taking BAC readings after beer #3 for example, my dad received the “FL” error notification 4 times before finally receiving a result and the result was quite skewed when compared to the MADD chart.

A Final Thought

I feel as though it’s important to mention how shocked my dad and I were by the breathalyzer results. After 4 beers in 4 hours my dad and I both did not feel as though we could get behind the wheel and drive effectively so we were shocked to find that we both blew under the legal limit. Though it’s important to ensure that your BAC level is under the legal limit before your drive, it’s more important to also gauge whether or not you should drive by how you are feeling.

Parties are a cornerstone of the holidays. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is affected by many factors including weight and sex so it can be inaccurate to simply estimate BAC levels. Therefore, investing in a breathalyser ensures accurate BAC results when it matters. The BACtrack Go Keychain Breathalyzer is a small, easy-to-use breathalyzer that will provide your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and make sure that you and your loved ones get home safe and sound this holiday season.

The BACtrack Go Keychain Breathalyzer is not online available yet but check out our other BACtrack breathalyzers here.

Information, charts and photos taken from MADD, Craft Beer Market, Steeltoad Brewing and Tap & Barrel

Lucy Woodhead
My focus is to discuss tech products that are trendy and in demand amongst the younger generation. Over the years I have reviewed, compared and wrote about a wide variety of products, including headphones, speakers, sound docks, iPods and mp3 players. With Best Buy’s launch of VIVA and Home & Lifestyle, I have had the opportunity to expand my focus to include a younger person’s perspective on many of these great products as well!