20 Fun Facts About the Way We Drink, As Told By a Breathalyzer

Do you remember that handy little breathalyzer we reviewed last year that synced with your smartphone via Bluetooth? The BACtrack Mobile, as it's called, turns out to not just be a means of trying to outdo (or under-do) your friends' drunkenness, but it's also been gathering a whole lot of anonymous data over the last year, the fruits of which have just been released unto us.

It's Friday afternoon, you've made it through the long week, and it's time for Happy Hour, Gizmodo's weekly booze column. A cocktail shaker full of innovation, science, and alcohol. Dayta, Dahta, Dahtto, Blotto.

While it's by no means comprehensive or particularly scientific, after over 100,000 unique tests, it's fun to have a look about what it may imply about gadget-fiends' drinking habits.

So, first, a disclaimer: While, sure, 100,000 tests spread out over 12 month is a solid number, we must remember that these are all tests carried out by people that have purchased this specific product and then used it. A product that pairs with smartphones. In other words, these numbers aren't going to reflect your typical drunken reveler, who is simply drinking and not breathing into a thingy to test his or her blood-alcohol content. In other words, put an entire salt-lick in your mouth when you take this data. But that doesn't mean it can't be fun.

Saturday Night, Baby

  • The average BAC result when people test themselves is 0.069%. On Saturday, however, that average BAC jumps to 0.080%, which coincidentally is the legal driving limit in all 50 U.S. states.
  • The highest average BAC in a specific one hour window is 4 a.m. - 5 a.m. on Saturday, where users average 0.113%.
  • In contrast, the lowest average BAC in a one hour window is Tuesday between 9am and 10am, coming in at 0.018%. I guess that's when people opt to wake and bake instead of drink.
  • The highest average BACs by day and week are Saturday and Sunday; more than 49% of users test over 0.010% BAC between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m.
  • If you want to dive into that info, check this grid for your favorite drinking times (or, rather, the times you probably don't want to be on the road).

20 Fun Facts About the Way We Drink, As Told By a Breathalyzer

Or, the simplified version:

20 Fun Facts About the Way We Drink, As Told By a Breathalyzer

Holiday Surprises

  • Not surprisingly, New Year's Day had the single highest number of unique users and the greatest number of tests - nearly double that of any other day. The next highest day for number of tests was Christmas Day. But guess what? According to BACtrack's data, neither of these holidays were among the top drunkest days of the year.
  • BACtrack's data shows that the days with the highest average BACs were Saturday, June 22 (.115% BAC), Saturday, July 27 (.097% BAC), Friday, Aug 9 (.097% BAC). Do you know what's special about those days? Absolutely nothing! I mean, they're all in summertime months. Could it be that it was simply great weather out and so everyone got plastered? Probably. Could it also be that the drunkest people on New Year's were too drunk to remember to test themselves? Maybe. And again, let's keep in mind that this is data from just one year (2013). I'd be willing to bet that the top three dates this year will be completely different. Let's keep an eye on this, going forward.
  • As far as holidays go, the highest average BAC days for U.S. drinkers are New Year's Eve (0.095%), Super Bowl Sunday (0.087%), Valentine's Day (0.081%) and Fourth of July (0.079%).
  • Thanksgiving is way boozier than Christmas. In fact, BACtrack users had higher average BACs on Thanksgiving Day (0.064%) than for Christmas Day (0.055%), Halloween (0.056%), and St. Patrick's Day (.057%). I guess we all like a little something to wash the stuffing down. Or feel the need to grease the skids with the family.
  • Here you can see our major holidays visualized against other high-drinking days, some of which eclipse them (as mentioned above):

20 Fun Facts About the Way We Drink, As Told By a Breathalyzer

  • Drinking time of day is different per holiday, as you might expect. Thanksgiving peaks around 7pm. Valentine's Day and Christmas Eve has people drinking earlier, and New Years, St. Patrick's Day, and the Fourth of July has people drinking later. Here's another chart!

20 Fun Facts About the Way We Drink, As Told By a Breathalyzer

  • Also, when Halloween was in the middle of the week last year, people decided to live it up on the Saturday before rather than the Saturday after. Good to note for future party planning purposes.

20 Fun Facts About the Way We Drink, As Told By a Breathalyzer

The Geography of Drank

20 Fun Facts About the Way We Drink, As Told By a Breathalyzer

  • You know who likes to booze it up? According to BACtrack's data, it's them folks up north. Montana and South Dakota have the highest average BAC in the country, each with 0.010%.
  • The other top states are West Virginia (0.098%), Oklahoma (0.096%), Idaho (0.089%), Vermont (0.087%), Tennessee (0.087%), followed by Wisconsin, Nevada and Massachusetts all with 0.086%.
  • Who are the driest? The five states with the lowest BAC are: New Hampshire (0.012%), Delaware (0.026%), Utah (0.031%), Arkansas (0.037%), and Wyoming (0.051%).
  • Here is the full ranking by state:

20 Fun Facts About the Way We Drink, As Told By a Breathalyzer

  • And how's about by big cities? Dallas, TX; Oakland, CA; Scottsdale, AZ; and Indianapolis, IN have the highest average BAC results (0.091-0.90% respectively). Shockingly, that's higher than Vegas (0.089%).
  • On the low side of the big cities, we have Houston, TX (0.034% BAC) and Columbia, SC (0.041% BAC). Now, having just spent a week in Houston I have to say that I am extremely skeptical of this figure. Again, we don't know how many drinkers in Houston used BACtracks, and those that did are probably among the more responsible drinkers, or so one would think.
  • While Los Angeles has roughly half as many BACtrack users per capita as San Francisco, Los Angeles users are 40 percent more active, with 14 tests per user versus 10 per user for San Franciscans. The takeaway here: LA needs better public transit in a bad way.
  • Here's a graph of the top and bottom cities for BAC:

20 Fun Facts About the Way We Drink, As Told By a Breathalyzer

Again, take with many grains of salt, but it's interesting stuff. We look forward to seeing how this data pool increases and changes over the years to come. BACtrack claims they'll keep updating these lists as more info comes in, and you can follow all of that fun here. See you next week, for another boozy Happy Hour.