South Ayrshire Council has issued a festive warning this week to anyone tempted to use personal breathalysers to check whether they are safe to drive.
Trading Standards sampled breathalysers widely available online and from local retailers and found serious inaccuracies and inconsistencies with these products, ranging from less than half the correct reading to more than double the correct reading.
The legal limit in Scotland is now 22 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath but the breathalysers tested displayed their results using several different units of measurement.
Some products gave a warning as to whether users were legal to drive but they were not always set to the (lower) Scottish limit. The products tested ranged from £6 to £70, however higher cost was no guarantee that the product worked accurately.
Since the reduction of the limit in Scotland last year, the popularity of alcohol breathalyser products has soared. Many people use these products to check whether they are fit to drive the morning after a night out. Getting this wrong has serious implications such as causing injury or death when driving or losing your licence or job, or receiving a criminal record.
Councillor John McDowall, Sustainability and Environment Portfolio Holder for South Ayrshire Council said: "It's good that drivers are trying to be safe and testing themselves, but given the issues regarding the accuracy of these products I would urge people not to rely upon them, if in any doubt don't drive.
"The Christmas party season is already in full flow and we want everyone to have a good time but to also stay safe.
"We will be reporting these results to the appropriate national liaison groups for their consideration as well as making the Scottish Government aware of our findings".
The message from Police Scotland is clear, Inspector Dean Pennington said: "Drinking and driving remains the cause of many collisions on our roads, often with tragic consequences. With the reduced alcohol levels for drink driving introduced last December, there is no safe limit for having alcohol before driving.
"The annual Festive Drink Drive campaign is already underway, and Police Officers across the country are out on the roads carrying out checks. Alcohol can remain in your system for several hours after drinking and can affect your ability to drive the next morning. Whilst there are a number of devices on sale that claim to measure the amount of alcohol in your body, their accuracy cannot be relied upon, and the only safe way to ensure you are fit to drive is to not drink alcohol before driving.
"At this time of year in particular, there are many party nights happening, and if you are going to be drinking, I would urge people to leave the car at home and use public transport or taxis."
If you require further help or advice on this, contact the Council's Trading Standards team on 01292 616060 or firstname.lastname@example.org