It isn’t always easy to determine when you’ve had too much to drink. After all, people who have a BAC of over .08 percent may not exhibit the mental or physical signs of drunken behavior.
In 2014, many people purchased a personal breathalyzer – a small and handheld device that displays the user’s breath alcohol concentration on either the item itself or after being connected to a smartphone app. Apart from measuring a person’s BAC, some breath test apps also offer additional options such as contacting a friend for a ride, calling a cab, or locating nearby hotels.
A typical breathalyzer may require you to wait 20 minutes after your last drink, and then blow into a mouthpiece for a few seconds. The results will then register on the digital display available on most devices in less than a minute. While some are fuel cell devices that appear similar to a cell phone, others breathalyzers come in keychain form.
The latest fad has resulted in various brands of personal breathalyzers ranging from $15 to $150 apiece both in stores and online. These devices are being marketed to the general public as so-called accurate tools for drinkers to determine their level of intoxication and track their drinking habits. Some restaurants and bars are even installing these breathalyzers in their establishments so that customers can check their BAC level for a minimal fee.
Understandably, these devices are receiving their fair share of criticism. For instance, critics have expressed concern that such devices may actually wind up serving as a form of entertainment, thus promoting harmful levels of drinking instead of preventing them. People may feel encouraged to see how drunk they can get, or even attempt to beat their friends’ readings.
Another problem with personal breathalyzers is their accuracy. Numerous media outlets have tried out several of the more popular models, only to discover that they gave vastly different readings based on the device’s brand and quality. Additionally, a person’s BAC is not always the most accurate form of depicting one’s level of intoxication, as the same BAC value between two people can show a wildly different level of impairment. Every person is affected by alcohol differently, and can be based on a person’s sex, age, weight, tolerance for alcohol, and even medical factors.
A person’s BAC value can also be unpredictable, as the highest level of BAC is known to occur 30 to 90 minutes after an individual’s last drink – when the drink has had time to be fully absorbed into the bloodstream. People may use a personal breathalyzer to test their BAC right before getting behind the wheel, and the reading may be significantly lower compared to after they have made their way home. If they do get caught for DWI – it should be known that results of a personal breathalyzer will not be accepted in a court of law.
Manufacturers of these portable devices do give warnings that users should not make driving decisions solely based on the results of their reading. By missing the fine print, however, users may consider a reading of less than .08 percent as permission to drink and drive, regardless of how impaired they feel.
Individuals shouldn’t use a personal breathalyzer to determine whether or not it safe to get behind the wheel after drinking. In fact, the bottom line is that individuals probably shouldn’t drive after drinking, period.
Source: Do Personal Breathalyzers Promote or Prevent Drunk Driving?, published on http://scramsystems.com/blog/2015/02/personal-breathalyzers-prevent-promote-drunk-driving/#.VNhu1bCUd18.