Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Better Safe than Sorry

One of the hazards associated with being in the wine industry is the potential for drink driving.
Apart from wine dinners and tastings there are always the impromptu tank and barrel samplings in the various wineries visited.
Normally we run a designated driver system for social events with the DD limited to 1-2 glasses and a ‘swirling and spitting’ system for the tastings to be able to keep under the legal 0.05g/100mL BAC limit.
In our part of the world it is very difficult miss the random breath testing (RBT) stations that the police set up as there is only one major road running through our area. This crosses a number of bridges which are the perfect places for RBT.
They are there on a regular basis at any time of the day or night and one would have to be pretty stupid to think they will be lucky enough to avoid them all the time.
A great number of people get caught in the morning after particular heavy nights despite the fact it has been many hours after the last drink. It is this situation that concerns us the most.
One solution to the problem would be to have your own breathalyser testing unit. In the past these have been quite expensive and unreliable.
Recently however, our state driving association, the NRMA, got together with a producer of breathalysers who also supply the police department and have released a hand held unit suitable for general use at a reasonable price and which complies with Australian standards.
We bought one.

It is simple to use and only needs to be sent back to the manufacturer every 6 months (or after 300 tests) for recalibration at a reasonable cost.
We have been running some tests at home after drinking our dinner wine and results have been (excuse the pun) a little sobering. It is obvious that reaching the legal limit of 0.05 without feeling at all impaired is quite easy. Half a bottle of 13.5% alcohol wine drunk over an hour will do it for me even with food. Obviously it would be less for a female.
It is also interesting to note that a test sooner than 10 minutes after the last drink can produce a false reading, BAC can rise for up to 2 hours after the last drink and it can take 10 hours or more for a high BAC reading to return to zero ie. the morning after problem!
It was also mentioned that the unit will not respond to a BAC greater than 0.30!!!!!!
As if!
While not relying on the results 100% it will be an added level of security to have this unit in the glove box of the car.

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