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.

Drive Sober App No Car Breathalyzer, But It Might Stop DUI

no DUI signSince the advent of smartphones, there has been a wide range of productivity apps designed to help you with tasks in your day-to-day life. But did you know there are apps designed to stop you from getting behind the wheel after drinking and driving? Although they aren’t as effective as a car breathalyzer, Drive Sober apps do provide valuable reminders and are full of essential services designed to keep you from driving under the influence.

Take Drive Sober West Virginia for example – sponsored by the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program, the app is designed to remind any driver that drinking and driving isn’t worth the risk. It includes a list of companies you can call if you need a sober ride home, DUI laws and penalties, information on car breathalyzers and West Virginia’s ignition interlock program, as well as what a DUI will actually cost you should you be stopped. And to give you a visual idea of what drinking and driving is really like, the app includes a sample of impairment or ‘beer’ goggles you can check out.

Although it sounds like the app is designed into scaring someone into not drinking and driving, apps like Drive Sober West Virginia are actually created to help you keep your safety in mind. In 2012, there were 5654 people arrested for driving under the influence, and 94 alcohol-related fatalities. That’s a lot of people who could have benefited from a reminder to not to drink and drive.

Many different state highway safety programs have created their own version of the Drive Sober app including Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Wyoming, and all are available on the app store. No matter what state you drive in, it’s never a bad idea to have a reminder on your smartphone about the consequences of drinking and driving.

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.

Will Self-Driving Cars Finally Solve the DUI Problem?

The road ahead for automotive technology is pretty clear, at least to silicon valley types: self-driving cars are in our future. And the California DMV just brought the future one step closer by issuing a set of rules for manufacturers who want to test cars on the state’s roads.

self-driving carThat’s right. California, known for its draconian driving regulations, is about to let self-driving cars on its roads. Of course, of the long list of requirements, some are designed to keep tinkerers and garage-based startups out of the running: massive amounts of insurance, a surety bond, and proof of financial responsibility in case the car gets into an accident.

The cars must be labeled as self-driving, much like cars with student drivers. But the most important requirement is that the person in the car is a licensed and fully-capable driver who is “capable of taking over immediate physical control” of the vehicle. California is notoriously hard on drunk drivers, reckless drivers, unlicensed drivers. The state is not about to give self-driving vehicles carte blanche.

Perhaps someday this technology will be so reliable that people who have had too many drinks at a party can hop in their self-driving cars, click a “Get Me Home” button and snooze in the back seat. But it won’t happen for decades, and perhaps never. Remember, self-driving trains (automated people movers, or APMs) have been in existence since the 1960s, but they are not very common; apart from a few subway lines, they are found mostly in airports and amusement parks. Human-populated roadways, moreover, are much more complicated than rails. One needs not only to navigate the roads but fathom the intentions of other drivers, and bear liability for accidents. It’s a lot to ask of a machine.

Incidentally, one of California’s regulations states that the autonomous vehicle test driver has not been “convicted of driving or operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol” for the preceding ten years.


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