How To Beat Alcoblow (Kenyan Breathalyzer)

by | Apr 24, 2014 | Legal, Society & Culture, Travel | 0 comments

If you are a regular driver on Kenyan roads and you enjoy your tipple, you must have wondered if it is possible to beat or trick the alcoblow gadget and pass the test.

Alcoblow is a breathalyzer device used by Kenyan traffic police to determine blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The gadget has proved a nightmare for Kenyan drivers. Hundreds have been arrested, fined and even jailed for driving under the influence.

There are several misconceptions around the issue of whether the device can be tricked and we hope to separate fact from fiction in this article.

Drinking lots of water before you leave the bar will lower your BAC

This is fiction. The amount of water you drink does not affect the length of time it takes your body to break down alcohol. Water only prevents you from getting dehydrated and can lessen the effects of a hangover.

On average, it takes one hour to break down one unit of alcohol. The following are the units of alcohol contained in several drinks common in Kenya do the math.

One unit of alcohol is equal to 10ml of pure alcohol. The following are the approximate units in popular Kenyan drinks:

  • 2.1 units in a 175 ml glass of wine (12%)
  • 3 units in a 250 ml wine (12%)
  • 2 units in 473ml of low-strength lager, beer or cider (2.5 – 3.5%) e.g. White Cap Light, Tusker Light
  • 3 units in 473ml of higher-strength lager, beer or cider (5 – 6%)e.g. Heineken, Tusker Malt, Summit Malt, Tusker, Pilsner, Whitecap, Summit etc
  • 1 unit in a tot measure of spirits (25ml) e.g. Viceroy, Richot, Smirnoff, Jameson, Johny Walker etc

The length of time to break down alcohol is also affected by a person’s:

  • weight
  • gender
  • age
  • metabolism
  • the amount of food eaten
  • type of alcohol consumed
  • medication 

Holding Your Breath and Pretending to Blow into the Device

This will hardly fool the usually hawk eyed police officers. In fact, it is a bad idea to try this because holding your breath allows alcohol to accumulate in your lungs and potentially inflate the actual BAC reading when you eventually blow into the device (and you will!).

Hyperventilation May Beat Alcoblow

The only way you could potentially get away drink driving is by hyperventilating a few minutes before you blow into the device. This involves breathing in and out deeply for about two minutes. A decades old study found that breathing in and out deeply or engaging in vigorous exercise a few minutes before being tested can lower your BAC by as much as 10%. So if you are only slightly above the legal limit, you could try hyperventilating and you just might pass the test.

Register for an Alcoblow Whatsapp or Facebook Group

There are numerous social media groups where members watch out for one another by posting about alcoblow roadblocks when they encounter them so that other members can avoid them. This has effective for a while but the NTSA (National Transport and Safety Authority) recently purchased a fleet of vehicles to allow them to stop drivers and test them on the spot at any location. It seems the lawman is becoming highly adept at catching drunk drivers.


  • The only way to beat alcoblow for sure is not to drink and drive, it simply isn’t worth the risk. You endanger your life and other people’s lives; not to mention the stress you go through trying to navigate the police road blocks. 
  • Some mouthwashes contain alcohol and can lead to a positive test if the police stop you a few minutes after using the mouthwash. For example, Listerine is 27% alcohol. A number of fresh breath sprays also contain alcohol.


National Health Service UK

Brown University Health Education

Suggested Reading

List of traffic offences

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