An Ignition Interlock Could Be Coming If You Rely On Breathalyzer Apps

gavelThere are a lot of things smartphones can do, from recording your blood pressure and heart rate to scanning your fingerprints. But when it comes to breathalyzers, relying on apps designed to test your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) could end in you receiving a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction, being involved in a fatal crash, or receiving penalties including having to install an ignition interlock.

That’s why North Carolina Highway Patrol Officers are urging caution when it comes to using breathalyzer apps. Some apps will claim to give you an accurate calculation of your BAC simply based on your weight, height, and what you’ve had to drink, while other apps include additional devices or plug ins you must connect to your smartphone to get an accurate reading. The problem with these devices is that they’re not considered ‘evidentiary grade’ or comparable to the technology built into a police grade breathalyzer or ignition interlock. Without unique fuel cell technology designed specifically to provide accurate BAC readings, you can’t rely on your app to provide factual information.

Another thing to consider is your ability to make decisions after drinking. When you’ve been drinking, your judgment tends to fly out the window. Using apps to check your BAC and finding you’re below the legal threshold of .08 may make you feel brave enough to risk getting behind the wheel. Even if you don’t blow near .08 and instead are in the warn range of .05 to .08, you could still be too intoxicated to drive.

These types of breathalyzer apps and breathalyzers that connect to your smartphone can be used as a good reminder to not drink and drive, but you should never rely on them to decide whether or not to get behind the wheel after a few drinks. The safest option for everyone, no matter what your weight, height, or how well you can handle your alcohol, is to hand the keys over to someone else and never drive after drinking.

What You Need To Know About Monitoring Your Guardian Interlock

GuardianVideoSidebarText3Having Guardian Interlock installed in your vehicle is a fast, easy process, and it’s the first step to completing your required ignition interlock program.

Once your Guardian Interlock is installed and you’ve been using it for a while, you’ll be required to return to the Guardian service center so they can download your event logs and send them to the authorities. The state will require you to visit the Guardian service center once every 30 to 60 days, and the number of visits you will need to make will vary depending the state you live in and whether or not you had any monitoring violations. It’s easy to keep up to date with your appointments too – your Guardian Interlock will show the number of days until your next appointment when it powers up in your vehicle, and you may receive reminders from the service center as well.

What happens if you don’t service your vehicle or you miss your appointment? If you fail to bring your vehicle into Guardian Interlock’s service center when it’s scheduled, your vehicle will lock you out and you won’t be able to drive it. The vehicle will then need to be towed to the service center.

Part of why Guardian Interlock makes completing your program easy is because they take care of all of the state paperwork. This includes details of your installation and all interactions with your interlock. As part of Guardian’s service, the onboard database capturing your compliance events is downloaded whenever you bring your vehicle in, and this information is made available to authorities at any time.

From the time your interlock device is installed to when your program is complete and the interlock device is removed, Guardian Interlock takes care of everything. All you’ll have to do is make sure you never get behind the wheel of your vehicle after drinking.

Pocket Breathalyzers – Are They Accurate?

breathalyzerDay in day out, people make the choice to get behind the wheel after drinking, so products designed to stop drinking and driving continue to roll out on a monthly basis. This lineup includes a long list of personal breathalyzers that are small, compact, and designed to take with you on the go.

That’s where the DrinkMate breathalyzer comes in. After a long line of hand held breathalyzers ranging in size from that of an ignition interlock all the way down to an app on your phone, DrinkMate promises to be the world’s smallest breathalyzer. It’s only 1.8 inches long, weighs 0.2 oz, and connects to your smartphone via miniUSB to both charge and give you a ‘innovative air inlet’ to blow and register your blood alcohol content (BAC) instantly on your screen.

What’s the difference between a personal breathalyzer and one administered by the police? While police grade breathalyzers have fuel cell technology to provide the most consistent and accurate results and are performed by certified law enforcement to accurately test and assess someone’s sobriety, DrinkMate is a handheld personal device you administer yourself with the claims to have accuracy from +/- 0.01% BAC. Although the device can’t register super extreme driving under the influence (DUI) levels, it will show a maximum of 0.20% BAC.

DrinkMate has been in the news lately because it’s started a KickStarter campaign to raise funds for development, but the police are warning the public to use caution when it comes to these types of breathalyzers. Relying on a handheld device to tell you whether you’re too drunk to drive could result in people driving while buzzed, and that’s just as dangerous as driving while over the legal limit of .08.

And when you drive over the legal limit? You could end up with your own car breathalyzer – an ignition interlock.

Marijuana Breathalyzer May Hit Market Later This Year

marijuana-breathalyzerEveryone knows you shouldn’t drink and drive, but some people still think it’s OK to smoke marijuana and get behind the wheel. With some states legalizing the drug, drugged driving is becoming a big problem all across North America. A few entrepreneurs are taking steps to get a handle on drugged driving across Canada and the United States by developing a marijuana-detecting breathalyzer.

Although all 50 states have some form of drugged driving law, there isn’t a common consensus on how much is too much for driving. Unlike the hard and fast rule of .08 for drinking and driving, without a roadside breathalyzer, the amount of drug in a driver’s system tends to be harder to quantify. Law enforcement currently rely on roadside sobriety tests to check for drugged driving,

To obtain a conviction for drugged driving, most states use a ‘per se’ type of law, meaning that if any detectable amount of controlled substance like marijuana is found in the driver’s bodily fluids, that driver can be charged with a drugged driving violation. In states where marijuana is legal, the laws get a little more specific. Colorado’s drugged driving laws state that when THC is in the driver’s blood in quantities of 5ng/ml or higher, law enforcement can infer that the person is under the influence.

Random roadside saliva tests for marijuana use is being used in parts of Europe and Australia, but the concern using saliva testing in the United States is that it can be construed as infringing on the driver’s civil liberties and that the test itself isn’t accurate. A recent provision in a Michigan bill would have allowed law enforcement to use roadside saliva tests, but it was removed until research shows the tests work for all drugs.

The roadside marijuana breathalzyer currently being developed is called the Cannabix Breathalyzer, and it will work in as little as a few minutes. Information obtained from the breathalyzer will allow the officers to know immediately if the person driving has consumed marijuana in the past two or three hours, and may be able to assist in obtaining a conviction for drugged driving.

Tests are currently on-going for the new breathalyzer device, and although there may be opposition to how accurate the device is, it may hit the market as quickly as later this year.

What Police Look for When Giving DUI Tests

DUI Test image Being pulled over by a police officer can be a nerve-racking experience, especially if you have had a glass or two of wine. If you are pulled over for being suspected of driving under the influence (DUI), the breath test is merely the last step in your evaluation. You can rest assured that, from the very beginning, the officer is making careful mental notes of everything you do, starting with how you drive and how you pull over — are you driving safely or erratically? Once you are pulled over, he will be looking for various indicators of intoxication. These include:

  • Your general demeanor—polite or aggressive
  • Alcohol smell on your breath or signs of drinking in the vehicle
  • Speech mannerisms—if you slur or speak too slow or too fast
  • Red facial flush or bloodshot eyes
  • Signs of anxiety or stress
  • Poor reflexes or clumsiness

The officer may have you perform one or more field sobriety tests.  The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has established three standardized sobriety tests. These are:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test. In this test, the officer will ask you to track the movement of a pen or finger with your eyes. Nystagmus is the involuntary jerking of the eye when you look to the periphery. This becomes more pronounced when you are under the influence.
  • Walk-and-Turn Test. In this test, the officer will ask you to take nine steps, heel-to-toe, in a straight line—preferably along an already existing line. The officer will look for balance issues or for not following directions.
  • One-Leg Stand Test. In this test, the officer will ask you to stand on one foot, with the other foot six inches off the ground. You will need to count out loud while you do this. The officers will again be looking for balance issues.

There are other field sobriety tests that may be administered outside of the three standard ones. These might include:

  • A finger-to-nose test
  • Reciting the alphabet or counting backward
  • Balancing while standing with your feet together, your head back and your eyes closed

The officer may ask you to take a portable breath test (PBT), in which you directed to blow twice into a breathalyzer. There will be a few minutes’ wait between tests, which determine if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is below the legal limit for a DUI.

The combination of the officer’s experience reading the signs, your performance on the standard tests, and the result of your breath test determine if your next stop is back home or the police station.

DUI Technology – Smartphone Breathalyzers

breathometerThe increased crackdown on drunk drivers has given rise to a plethora of new mobile phone apps to help drinkers avoid being arrested. These apps come with a range of features. Some helping you measure or estimate your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) to see if it is within legal limits. Some help you find out where DUI checkpoints are being held. Some outline the laws and give you the ability to record being pulled over as well as notify a DUI attorney in the event you are arrested. Some connect you with designated driver services.

Smartphone Breathalyzers

A new breed of gadgets that you can attach to your mobile phone include actual breathalyzers. These devices take readings of your breath to determine BAC.

One smartphone breathalyzer is called the Breathometer™. This device clips into your audio jack and works in conjunction with the Breathometer app. When prompted by the app, you “take a deep breath and whistle blow for 5 seconds about an inch away from the illuminated hole.”  The device then displays your BAC level. The developers claim that the device is registered with the FDA and has undergone extensive government testing to an accuracy of ±.01% BAC. You can even share it with friends.

Similar apps include iBreath, BACtrack and Alcohoot.

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