Police officers use preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) devices in the field to test a driver's blood alcohol level. At the police station, officers may have the driver submit to a chemical breath test that can be used as evidence in court. However, the police are not the only ones who have breath testing devices. Just about anyone can purchase a relatively inexpensive breathalyzer, and one survey shows that owning a breathalyzer may actually reduce the chances of drinking and driving.
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) recently conducted a survey on drunk driving for individuals who had their own portable breathalyzer. This summer, the CDOT gave 225 randomly selected volunteers their own breathalyzer to use with their smartphones. Users were asked to use the breathalyzer when they were drinking. The accompanying smartphone app also provided an option to call for a ride from Uber or Lyft.
Before issuing the breathalyzers, almost 80% of the volunteers admitted to drinking and driving. However, after two months of using the breathalyzer, the number of volunteers who admitted to drinking and driving was reduced to only 12%. Over 80% of the volunteers agreed that owning the smartphone breathalyzer lowered their risk of getting a DUI.
“The results of this study indicate that we need to be expanding this program and getting breathalyzers into the hands of more people,” said Sam Cole, a spokesperson with CDOT. “People who got the breathalyzers were much more likely to make good decisions when it comes to drinking and driving.”
The volunteers combined for over 4,800 blood alcohol tests over the two month period. The average BAC was 0.087%, just over the legal limit. The age distribution showed younger drinkers (aged 21 to 30) had the highest BAC test average at 0.092%. That number lowered in the higher age groups, with volunteers over the age of 60 testing an average BAC of 0.047%.
The portable breathalyzer and smartphone app can estimate your blood alcohol content, track test results over time, and estimate how long it will take for the driver's BAC to return to 0.0%. The app can also help users find a safe ride home if they think they had too much to drink.
The CDOT plans to continue and expand the program. They will work with the makers of the breathalyzers to potentially buy them in bulk and hand them out for free. The breathalyzers used in the study cost about $100 retail; however, some personal breathalyzers can be purchased for under $30. Compared to the cost of a DUI, a breathalyzer is a cheap investment for individuals who may not know when they've had too much to drink.
If you are arrested for driving under the influence after an accident, your arrest does not have to lead to a conviction. With more than 30 years of experience defending people facing DUI charges in the East Bay, Lynn Gorelick understands how a conviction can affect your future. Contact the East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands the charges you are facing and will fight for your rights.