Road Safety News
 

Pill helps drivers beat breathalyser

Tuesday 28th August 2012

A pill is being offered for sale online which is designed to allow drivers to drink more alcohol and still pass a breathalyser (Mail Online).

The man selling the pills, Arthur Kibble, says the 'Alcopal' capsules give a breath test result which is nine times lower than it should be.

However, Mr Kibble says he is not advocating drinking and driving.

The Alcopal website says: “Going out to celebrate or just having a good time? ‘Be careful’ if your driving, always take Alcopal with you. Take the recommended dose and it will make all the difference if you're breathalyzed.

“Alcopal helps to reduce the alcohol breath you expel from your lungs.

“Alcopal effectively reduces and prevents the absorbtion of alcohol from the inner lining of the stomach and intestine into the systemic flow (blood stream). This helps in reducing the burden on the liver and kidneys.”

The Mail Online report says Mr Kibble has tested them himself on Home Office-approved Draegar Breathalyser machines.

Mr Kibble said: “The pills work by preventing the absorption of alcohol from the inner lining of the stomach and the intestine into the bloodstream. All of the ingredients are natural, there’s no prescription stuff in there.

“I am not advocating that motorists get blind drunk and then try to drive, but it does help you mentally. Because it prevents the uptake of alcohol and gives some protection to your liver and kidneys you’re more in control.

“I have had my lawyers check them out and they are perfectly safe and legal, otherwise I would not be selling them. They are targeted at anyone, especially those people who have two pints and are then banned for 12 months.

“What about bus drivers and taxi drivers who want to have a pint before work? Everyone does it, there’s a car park in every pub you go to.”

The legal limit for driving is 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath. Mr Kibble claims the Alcopal pills can reduce this reading to just 4mcg per 100ml.

The pills, which are produced in India, are offered for sale at £20 plus £3 postage per pack.

Kevin Clinton, RoSPA’s road safety spokesman, said: “It is dangerous and stupid and may encourage people to drink and drive in the belief they can get away with it.

“Drinking and driving kills hundreds of people every year in the UK and we would urge people to ignore this product and those selling it to stop doing so immediately.”

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I've looked on the Lion laboratories website and searched for "alcopal" - nothing. Have you a link to where Lion laboratories have said that "the pills don't work"?
Dave Finney - Slough

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)
+2

According to Lion laboratories the pills don't work, scientific mumbo jumbo. However I suspect people will buy them anyway, let's hope no one gets hurt in the meantime because of them.
Philip Blake Jersey

Agree (6) | Disagree (3)
+3

Liam, oh to be so innocent!

If the tablets are being used by people with the sole purpose of beating a drink drive conviction then it is as I suggested. The tablets are not being marketed as a hangover cure but are being deliberately aimed at helping people avoid detection whilst committing a criminal and morally abhorrant act."Take the recommended dose and it will make all the difference if you're breathalyzed." If you are not driving why worry about being breathalyzed? If someone wants to waste money on these tablets to allow themselves to drink even more alcohol on a night out then that is their decision to make but I seriously doubt they will be used solely for this purpose.
Mike from Oldham

Agree (11) | Disagree (4)
+7

Mike from Oldham - No this is nothing like 'wearing gloves during a burglary or a mask during a robbery'. If they were stopped and they had a 2 pence piece in their mouth then that would fit your example as it is urban legend that this will mess with the breath box. These tablets would be good for a night out of heavy drinking eg. a stag do (where your not driving) so you can keep up with everyone and stay in control. This whole media coverage must have been created by Mr Kibble to sell more tablets and it'll work.
Liam

Agree (5) | Disagree (5)
0

The STATS 20 categories very clearly differentiate between "driver/rider impaired by alcohol" and other people who were impaired. There are separate codes for cyclist, pedestrian, horse rider, etc so the statistics quoted by Kevin are correct, referring only to where a driver/rider directly involved in the collision was found to be impaired by alcohol.

This may in some cases have been the "other driver" but this is equally valid because their reactions and driving ability to control their vehicle have been impaired by the consumption of alcohol and are, therefore, contributory. This does not remove or reduce the responsibility of the primary "driver at fault". To what extent the other drivers alcohol impairment materially affected the circumstances is a matter for the courts to decide.
Honor Byford, North Yorkshire

Agree (7) | Disagree (1)
+6

Surely this is akin to wearing gloves during a burglary or a mask during a robbery! It is deliberately trying to prevent the detection of, and prosecution from a criminal act, an act which can lead to the death and injury of not only the drinker but of innocent road users. By now everyone knows the dangers of drink driving so why spend extra money on these tablets when simply having non-alcoholic drinks when driving makes so much more sense?
Mike from Oldham

Agree (9) | Disagree (7)
+2

Kevin Clinton's "drink driving kills hundreds of people" somewhat overstates the case. In 2008 and 2009 around 400 people died in drink-drive accidents, but my understanding is that an accident is classified as "drink-drive" if ANYONE involved fails a breath test.

That includes a drunk pedestrian or cyclist, or a driver who was not actually to blame for the accident although above the alcohol limit, but was just unlucky to be hit by someone who was stone cold sober. Which must happen from time to time.

Without re-reading the 120 pages of the Stats 20 instructions, I am not sure whether someone above the limit but who was merely a passenger in or on a vehicle would also result in the "drink-drive" box being ticked. Logically not of course, but logic is not always followed.

Derbyshire Police's detailed analysis of PRIMARY causal factors for Mar 09 to Feb 10 shows 135 impaired by alcohol out of 2,951 all severity accidents (4.5%). Applied pro- rata to 2011's 1,900 fatalities that's about 87 deaths primarily due to alcohol - but even that lower number would include drunk pedestrians, cyclists, bus passengers and horse riders.
Idris Francis

Agree (3) | Disagree (7)
-4

I would not dream of taking pills for anything, bought over the internet, made by goodness knows who and am amazed how many apparently do.

No personal interest as I hardly drink alcohol at all, but is there anyone here who understands the chemical process which leads to alcohol causing problems with driving abilities? Is it only the alcohol in the blood that causes the problem? If so, and these pills work, and could pass tests confirming that they prevent the symptoms, then he would surely not only be on to a huge winner but could cut drink driving casualties far more effectively than any official clampdown! As long as the pills are taken in good time and in appropriate amounts of course.

Unless the effect is simply to delay the alcohol getting into the blood so that the symptoms turn up much later, when not expected, which could be a big problem.

In principle I disapprovem unless and until it is demonstrated that the pills eliminate the problems.
Idris Francis

Agree (6) | Disagree (3)
+3

It's true, if the alcohol that enters the blood stream is limited by these pills then the alcohol simply passes through the body and is not absorbed. However, these pills do not claim to stop alcohol entering the blood stream in totality so here lies the problem....Lets say 'Bob' buys these pills in good faith, consumes the right amount in plenty of time before consuming alcohol and believes that the alcohol will not affect him (why not drink alcohol free drinks?!), I do not believe that there is an accurate way of knowing how much alcohol will be absorbed into the blood as all this product can do is help to inhibit that process. If this is marketed widely but without these warnings (why would they warn if trying to sell) then this could become a big problem. I welcome the technology for health benefits but not for the purposes of driving.
Sam, London

Agree (17) | Disagree (1)
+16

I think you're missing the point. The pills seem to stop the body from absorbing the alcohol into the blood stream. If sombody passes the breath test after taking these pills it means they are under the limit as the alcohol is not in their system. They would, I suspect, fail a urine test though as that alcohol has to go somewhere. I think you are all reading this as if it tricks the roadside breath tester.
Liam

Agree (7) | Disagree (5)
+2

It's not about a 'knee-jerk' reaction...it's about common sense.

Whether or not these pills are proven to reduce the amount of alcohol in your blood, we don't want anyone drinking any amount of alcohol before driving. It's as simple as that. If you do not drink alcohol before driving, then there is no need for these pills.

No product should be released that hints to the layman that it's okay to have one pint or two pints before driving.
Mike, from http://dontbethatsomeone.co.uk (London)

Agree (18) | Disagree (6)
+12

I wonder if the user could be done for driving under the influence of drugs?
Peter London

Agree (11) | Disagree (3)
+8

Why is it that so many "road safety campaigners" seem to have a knee-jerk reaction into blind panic at every scare story?

The sellers webpage claims "Alcopal ... reduces ... the absorbtion of alcohol ... into the ... blood stream".

If this is true then the pill effectively turns beer into non-alcoholic beer and you don't get drunk (so why not just drink non-alcoholic beer?). Therefore you are NOT drunk and you’re safe to drive while the pill remains active.

What the pill will NOT do is "fool" the breathalyser into giving a low reading for a driver that is "under the influence" of alcohol.

There may be more to this story yet to unfold but we really must urge caution and insist that the evidence be examined for every aspect of road safety. These sorts of panics don't seem to afflict other areas of safety engineering.
Dave Finney - Slough

Agree (11) | Disagree (6)
+5

In view of the very extensive evidence that demonstrates beyond doubt that consumption of alcohol impairs the ability to drive by reducing the functions of both body and brain, this is about as irresponsible an initiative you could imagine. If it succeeds in affecting breath test readings, I trust the testing equipment manufacturers will quickly develop a means to prevent that. If it is not effective, as seems more likely, it is a snake oil salesman's scam and something for Trading Standards to investigate. I have already passed it on to the relevant department.
Honor Byford, North Yorkshire

Agree (21) | Disagree (5)
+16

Outrageous and dangerous, but I bet they sell like hot cakes!
Jan

Agree (19) | Disagree (3)
+16

You've just saved yourself a ban but left yourself open to 'perverting the course of justice' maybe. This is just wrong, what about victims of these misguided fools?
Olly, Lancs.

Agree (16) | Disagree (6)
+10