Convicted Drunk Drivers Say Smartphone Breathalysers Helped Prevent Impaired Driving

Back in August, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) gave 475 people with DUI convictions a smartphone breathalyser, a mobile device that can estimate one's blood alcohol level instantly. Now CDOT has surveyed the participants, and the results are hugely positive: Ninety per cent said the breathalyser helped them avoid driving while impaired and 94 per cent said they would recommend the product to anyone who drinks regularly.

Photo: AP

Buzzed driving - driving after you've consumed alcohol, but are below legal limits - can still be fatal. Among other things, the survey found that people routinely overestimated their ability to drive after a few drinks before receiving the breathalysers, even after they faced the consequences of a DUI conviction. It's been discussed many times in many contexts, but arrests and fines alone don't always produce a change in behaviour.

CDOT's trial was done in partnership with BACtrack, which makes the smartphone breathalysers. Essentially, the company has an app linked to a mini breathalyser that can then connect to your phone via Bluetooth. It provides an instant estimate of your blood alcohol content (BAC), and users can order an Uber or taxi directly through the app. They run between $US100 ($132) and $US150 ($198). Steep, but a far cry from the roughly $US13,000 ($17,185) in legal fees associated with a first-time DUI conviction in Colorado.

Photo: BACtrack

The survey explored the enormous gap between how impaired someone "feels" after a few drinks and their actual BAC. Before the survey, a troubling 15 per cent of participants didn't know that a BAC of .08 is required for a DUI conviction in Colorado, and an even more troubling 41 per cent didn't know that a BAC of .05 met Colorado's legal threshold for driving while impaired. According to CDOT, one participant was convicted of a DUI in the six weeks since the breathalysers were given out.


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    You'd imagine someone who got convicted of drink driving would sort their life out and not drive after any drinks?

      Your comment, while logical and optimistic, is a bit idealistic and naive.

      Prople are creatures of habit and addiction is not logical. Minimising harm by offering breathalyzers to drinkers is a great idea.

      You can't tell 0.05 from 0.07 or 1.0. If you have tool that tells you you can't drive, problem solved for a large majority that think they are under the limit.

        They are a good idea but giving them to convicted drink drivers is almost like condoning what they did and encouraging them to drink before driving.

        What I said sounds naive because our laws are so weak. They should make it so convicted drink drivers have to blow zero and if they don't then they lose their license for life.

        You need serious punishments to stop people from repeat drink driving, not electronics!

    Interesting. If reliable breathalyzers were easily available at venues a lot of people wouldn't drive drunk, not really a surprise.

    A friend of mine was tossing up whether to drive bcus he wasnt sure. He saw cops across the road and asked for a breathalyzer. They said no. Are they responsible for drink driving if he chose to drive and was over the limit, yes. Yes they are.

      No they are not.

      They did not force him to drink
      They did not force him to drive.

      "If you drink and drive you're a bloody idiot"

      Catch a taxi if you are not sure. A taxi is cheaper than a potential loss of licence, Loss of your car, Loss of your own life or the loss of someone elses.

      You blaming the police is idiotic at best.

        Oh dj bear i love u. U have such a black and white perspective, and diametrically opposed to mine. I wonder if we'd ever agree on anything.

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