Do you think that the British have no competition in drinking? Actually, that’s not true. If a man consists mainly of water, there are nations in Europe that consist mainly of alcohol.

These are chiefly post-Soviet countries that prefer to indulge themselves in vodka. The first place in the WHO ranking goes to Belarus. Russia, by many considered number one, is on the 4th place. Whereas the United Kingdom is at the 25th, between Slovenia and Denmark. Our favourite alcohol is beer, which constitutes almost 40% of all alcohol consumed in the UK. Why is it so popular?

It’s because of the British tradition and low price. Beer in the UK has a long history, going as far as abbeys brewing beer in the Middle Ages and cool marinate climate makes it more delicate with complex aromas. Imagine that before 1872 nobody cared for drunk horse carriage drivers and connected dangers. What’s interesting, when cars were introduced and there was the first fatal motor accident caused by drunk George Smith in London in 1897, nobody acknowledged that it would make sense to draft a law stating that driving any mechanically propelled vehicle being drunk is an offence.

The English introduced this law no sooner than in 1925. But in 1932, the American scientist Rolla Neil Harger patented a device that was to change the situation on roads forever. It was the “Drunkometer”, which we wrote about in the article on the history of the breathalyser – a pioneer device that became the breathalyser.

How does it look today?

RETURNS AND CONCERNS

You’re at a party – loud music’s playing, everybody’s jumping and having fun, alcohol’s flowing, you’re pushing through the crowd to look for somebody familiar…

But, what’s that?

Who’s that?

In the corner, you see a sobbing figure – a teetotaller probably? Not really, it is the Breathalyser, namely AlcoFind PRO X-5. Nobody has asked for its name or pushed its buttons, people just wave at it and go their way.

The breathalyser is always brutally honest and complains that no one holds it like Hamlet held the skull and wants to know the answer “to drink or not to drink, that is the question” or “to drive or not to drive, that is the question”*. As put by Sammy Davis Jr, “alcohol gives you infinite patience for stupidity”, however the sober Breathalyser is forced to endure carefree behaviour caused by alcoholic intoxication, as people are ashamed of being caught seen with a buzzkill like that.

If it could, it would take all car keys away from drunk persons, protesting against drunk driving like an environmentalist against cutting down a tree.

Alcofind Pro X-5

An idealist.

This usually doesn’t end well, there’s always at least one drunk joker who after hearing “Hey mate, you should call a cab” answers in his own dialect of English that nobody understands.

Then he takes his anger out on the poor breathalyser, throws it on a table and accuse it of distorting test results, though the Breathalyser is impartial and not affected by cigarette smoke or strong mint chewing gum.

Meanwhile, the outraged student is getting ready to leave through something that once was a regular door but now is moving like a whirlpool, and wonders, if the architect of the apartment was influenced by the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

It happens quite often that this mate appears in newspapers along with his crashed car. If he wasn’t lucky, he might have killed somebody. If he had listened to the Breathalyser, he wouldn’t have sat behind the wheel and wasted his life.

LIVE IT UP LIKE A GROWN-UP

From time to time information on drunk drivers hits the news, usually around holidays. We tend to know that a car and alcohol shouldn’t be mixed. We tend to understand that, although we may feel sober and decide to sit behind the wheel, we end up demolishing half of the neighbourhood as in reality the alcohol was our chauffeur.

The best idea that you can have before such ride is turn for advice to the breathalyser, like the simply elegant AL-5500, that openly indicates whether you are good to go. No need to say any tongue twisters, count fingers or walk a few meters in a straight line. It hits 4 seconds after an inebriated breath, fortunately not with a rolling pin (like could happen with your furious wife) but with a result blinking in red that tells you more than a thousand unpleasant words of your woman.

If you decide otherwise, you could have an utterly unpleasant encounter with the police, that have been using breathalysers since 31st of December, 1938, when it was first used by the Indianapolis state police.

What if you’re in great need of going back home on your own but you know that you’re not fit enough to drive? No way you could take your car or motorcycle, even a bike is not an option.

But just around the corner you can see something – is that your beloved girlfriend coming to the rescue? No, it’s a scooter! No matter, if it’s trendy or old-fashioned. By law, a scooter is not considered a vehicle, so when riding it, you are a pedestrian. Well then, if you do not bounce off kerbs and road signs, you can easily ride on your scooter when under the influence of alcohol!

Actually, I’m messing with you as this idea is not wise at all. Don’t you think it’s better to comfortably seat in a cab and take a nap while being safely taken home with no unpleasant surprises that may have daring consequences?

DRUNK DRIVER BETTER THAN A SOBER ONE?

As it was mentioned earlier, the English introduced the law banning driving under the influence of alcohol in 1925. The Americans did it 15 years earlier, but it didn’t actually lower the number of road accidents, as the police didn’t have tools to measure the level of alcohol intoxication.

They had to wait for the first breathalyser to be patented and then developed in 1954 by Harger’s co-worker Robert Frank Borkenstein, who he constructed a more precise device in his cellar.

Drunk drivers couldn’t feel safe and unpunished anymore and Borkenstein’s career gained momentum. He was the chairman of the National Safety Council and, as the president of the International Committee on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety, he was responsible for research that was to prove that a driver with 58 g of alcohol is more concentrated than a sober one.

This research was sponsored by the alcoholic industry and Borkenstein didn’t believe in the results and repeatedly said that the most important thing is limiting the level of alcohol consumed by the society.

THE BEST BREATHALYSER IN THE WORLD?

Meanwhile, there was a great breakthrough in Great Britain in 1974 – lecturer Thomas Parry Jones introduced a new type of breathalyser. Thanks to the use of electronic system, it was small, light and precise.

He created the Lion Laboratories company and his breathalyser received the Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement in 1980, and Jones himself was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1986 for his service in the field of road safety.He was followed by other big companies that have introduced innovative solutions, making them affordable for common users. The race is even faster nowadays, you can find on the market new cutting edge devices like FlooMe – a sociable portable smartphone breathalyser compatible with Facebook which allows for sharing test results on Facebook with an accompanying selfie.

Nobody is telling you not to have fun and go crazy from time to time. But it’s important to keep a cool head and drink responsibly. Have fun mates!

*Actually, in the Shakespeare’s play Hamlet is not holding a skull when asking the question.