Direct Line unveils the world's first breathalyser toothbrush - The Brushalyser

  • The invention comes as new research reveals half of British adults aged 18 to 35 have taken to the roads the morning after a night out, despite feeling over the limit
  • Police Forces recorded an eight per cent year-on-year increase in motorists failing roadside breath tests in the morning
  • Ahead of the festive season, Direct Line is unveiling a first-of-its-kind breathalyser toothbrush to help Brits rise responsibly and check they’re safe to drive the morning after.


Today, Direct Line unveils the world’s first breathalyser toothbrush, a game-changing invention designed to freshen up the drink driving conversation and help Brits avoid taking to the roads over the limit the morning after a night of consuming alcohol.

The reveal of the Brushalyser aims to drive behaviour change by getting people to think twice before driving on a morning hangover, embedding this seamlessly into Brits’ morning routines. Once finished brushing, users would simply blow into the breathalyser on the back of the toothbrush; the light flashes red and vibrates if over the limit, and glows green if it’s safe to drive.

The innovation comes after new research1 from Direct Line reveals a quarter of British adults (25 per cent) admit to driving the morning after a night out, despite feeling under the influence of alcohol. Younger drivers, aged 18 to 35, are the biggest offenders with half (50 per cent) confessing to getting behind the wheel the morning after a night out. Police Forces2 have reported an eight per cent year-on-year increase in motorists failing breath tests in the morning hours.

The study found drivers who attended an event this summer consumed on average a whopping 16 units, the equivalent3 of seven pints of regular strength beer or one and a half bottles of wine. These individuals are consuming more than the NHS recommended weekly allowance4 in under 24 hours. This Christmas could see the next spike as drivers attend festive work parties and gatherings with friends.

Lorraine Price, Head of Motor Insurance at Direct Line comments: “As one of the UK's leading insurers, we’re on a mission to make roads safer for everyone and it’s clear drivers need a wake-up call when it comes to drinking and driving. The breathalyser toothbrush aims to remind people they could be over the limit the morning after drinking, and ties breath testing seamlessly into Brit’s morning routines. We’re mindful this is in early development stages, but change is needed now, so we’re urging people to get clued up on how long it takes to sober up. They could even consider buying a breathalyser for their home or car to test themselves before taking to the road in the morning.”

The campaign is backed by Dr Joeran Koechling, who recently led a University of Cambridge study into the reasons behind drink driving and particularly how accurately drivers can estimate their fitness to drive after drinking alcohol.

He comments: “I’ve spent decades studying road casualty data and while it’s always been concerning, the fact that people are openly confessing to taking to the roads while feeling under the influence of alcohol is shocking. This invention is incredibly smart. It embeds breath testing into a drivers’ morning routines seamlessly, even the visual reminder of seeing the breathalyser section on the back while you’re brushing your teeth acts as a prompt to take stock and test your alcohol levels.

“Road traffic injuries have become the leading killer of people aged five to 29 years, and recently, the World Health Organization has said that alcohol-related traffic accidents are one of the major causes. Our own study specifically showed drivers are strongly misjudging their alcohol levels, meaning people consider themselves fit to drive when in fact they have dangerous levels of alcohol in their blood.”

The research also showed lack of awareness when it comes to the law and limits, with 40 per cent of drivers admitting they don’t know the drink drive limit at all and over a third are unaware of the penalties if they were to be caught (35 per cent). One in ten believe breakfast, coffee and sleep will sober them up enough to be fit to drive. Almost a third (29 per cent) of 18 – 34-year-olds believe if they don’t feel drunk the morning after an evening of drinking alcohol they are fine to drive.

The toothbrush, which is currently being tested for potential release in 2024, is one part of Direct Line’s wider mission to highlight the risks of drink driving, to make roads safer for all now and in the future. The car insurer is rallying the nation to think before they drive the morning after a night out. With the upcoming festive season, they are asking people to spread with word to #RiseResponsibly.

City findings

Looking at city residents’ attitude to driving the morning after, a third (33 per cent) of Londoners admit to driving while still feeling the effects of alcohol. Over a quarter (27 per cent) of those living in Cardiff have driven the morning after when they could have been over the limit, closely followed by the residents of Brimingham and Liverpool (26 per cent). 

Table 1:  of drivers who admit to driving the morning after a night out, despite feeling under the influence of alcohol ranked by UK city 






33 per cent



27 per cent

3 (joint)



26 per cent



25 per cent

6 (joint)




24 per cent

9 (joint)



23 per cent

11 (joint)



22 per cent



20 per cent



19 per cent

15 (joint)



18 per cent



16 per cent

*Indictive only



Notes to editors

1.      Opinium consumer research, 2,000 Nat Rep UK adults who drive and drink alcohol, carried out August 2023

2.      Freedom of Information requests sent to all UK Police Forces, submitted May-July 2023, with a third providing data for the analysis comparing roadside failure rates 2021 versus 2022








41 per cent

2 (joint)

North West

South East

27 per cent

4 (joint)

Northern Ireland

North East


East Midlands

24 per cent


West Midlands

23 per cent


South West

22 per cent

10 (joint)

Yorkshire & Humberside

East of England

21 per cent



17 per cent


Direct Line Group

Alice Osborn

PR Manager

Email: [email protected]  


Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

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