With a push by the National Transportation Safety Board to lower the blood alcohol limit to .05 percent for drivers in Florida and all other states, consumer-grade testing devices are gaining in popularity. Prices for these units range from $30 to $150 and don’t require a training course to operate. They are sold calibrated and ready to use.
While these devices are useful for parents and employers, they may give those who have had a few drinks and want to be sure they can pass a police breathalyzer test a false sense of security. Though the equipment may work perfectly when it is new, the devices often need to be recalibrated after a few months to ensure accurate readings.
Manufacturers insist that these alcohol testing devices are designed for educational purposes. One of the new products includes an iPhone app and will direct users to a nearby restaurant where they can have a meal while their blood alcohol level goes down or a taxi company that will give them a ride home if they are in a hurry.
Some of these devices determine blood alcohol level with a metallic catalyst. When the user blows into it, a chemical reaction breaks down the alcohol and gives off electricity. Other, less expensive, units use a tin oxide semiconductor. False positives can occur from use of other alcohol-containing products such as hair spray and acetone.
These products are not designed for drivers to determine whether they are too drunk to drive.
Drivers who rely on these devices may find that they are not accurate enough to prevent an arrest for a DUI charge. Whether or not they use a alcohol-testing device before getting behind the wheel, drivers who are charged with DUI often enlist the help of an experienced DUI attorney to sort through the evidence against them and build a defense for them if their case goes to trial.
Source: New York Times, “Blood Alcohol Testers for Those Without Badges “, Matthew Wald, July 03, 2013
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