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Demand for mobile alcohol testing units on rise

On Behalf of | Jul 12, 2013 | Drunk Driving

Maryland residents may be interested in the development of new mobile products that test blood-alcohol content. The National Transportation Safety Board’s recent recommendation to drop the legal blood-alcohol limit for drivers from 0.08 to 0.05 has fueled interest in mobile blood alcohol testing devices. Larger alcohol-testing instruments like the ones use by police can cost up to $10,000. However, the newer, mobile models sell for as little as $30, making them easily accessible.

A spokesperson for BACtrak, a manufacturer of a pocket-sized mobile testing device, said the products are growing in popularity because enforcement of DUI charges has increased. He said the average person can’t possibly know the difference between a 0.05 level and a 0.08 level without testing their blood-alcohol content. BACtrak’s device is used in conjunction with an iPhone and predicts how a person’s blood-alcohol content level will change over time. The product of a competitor, Alcohoot, also works with an iPhone and recommends nearby restaurants to sober up and taxi services.

Critics say these devices shouldn’t be used as assurances that an individual is safe to drive. The manufacturers even agree on this, saying the products are educational tools and that every person responds differently to alcohol. Many of the devices also require annual calibration to maintain the accuracy of the readings. Critics say it’s unlikely that an average person would keep up with the calibrations.

The NTSB’s recommendation is yet another sign that the government is focused on its efforts to reduce drunk driving. Police are also stepping up their efforts. Many departments are using mobile devices that look like flashlights to track alcohol on a person’s breath. Though the devices can’t provide accurate blood-alcohol content readings, they can provide probable cause for an office to conduct further tests. Accused individuals have a right to defend themselves against drunk driving charges. An attorney with drunk driving defense experience could help an accused individual by examining the details of the charges and presenting a case in court to avoid conviction.

Source: New York Times, “Blood Alcohol Testers for Those Without Badges”, Matthew Wald, July 03, 2013