Breath-alcohol testing devices now widely available to consumers

The most consistent trend in technology is that it continues to get more sophisticated while simultaneously becoming smaller and less expensive. A good example is digital cameras and digital video cameras. These two devices used to be quite expensive and had to be purchased separately. Now, better versions of both are included in most smartphones.

The same trend may be happening to devices that were once available primarily to law enforcement agencies. The most notable device in this regard is the breath-alcohol test, commonly referred to as the breathalyzer. Drinkers are increasingly purchasing their own devices to give themselves a good estimate of their blood-alcohol concentration. This, in turn, gives them a good estimate of whether or not they are too drunk to drive.

Breath-alcohol tests are an important tool for police officers to determine if a drunk driving arrest should be made. Although the devices used by officers are the final say in the matter, motorists can test themselves with their own devices before getting behind the wheel.

Dedicated (single-purpose) breath-alcohol tests can be purchased for between $60 and about $350, with price usually an indicator of the device’s accuracy. However, a number of companies are also coming up with breath-alcohol measuring devices that can be linked to your smartphone. The devices can be purchased for about $50 and seem to be improving in accuracy.

Again, it should be noted that your personal breathalyzer device can only give you an estimate of your blood-alcohol concentration. If you choose to drive because your device says your BAC is below 0.08 percent, you still run the risk that a police-administered test will result in a higher reading.

Despite the variability between devices, social drinkers may find it helpful to invest in a personal breathalyzer device. But the DIY approach should not be taken if you find yourself facing drunk driving charges. Instead, you should rely on the expertise of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Source: West Virginia Public Broadcasting, “Key Chain Blood-Alcohol Testing May Make Quantified Drinking Easy,” July 31, 2014

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