In recent years, law enforcement agencies across the U.S. have stepped up efforts to prevent people from driving under the influence of alcohol. Indeed, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, approximately 1.2 million people in the U.S. were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in 2011.
In the last year, designers of smart phone applications have developed and released several programs aimed at allowing drivers to test their blood alcohol content before heading home after a night out. These programs are intended to help people make safer driving decisions and to avoid costly convictions for DUI.
Law enforcement officers typically administer a Breathalyzer test to measure a suspect's BAC. Breathalyzer machines, which have been around since the 1950's, have generally been expensive and unwieldy. The creators of smart phone apps have, however, taken advantage of recent advancements that have allowed for the manufacture of small alcohol sensors that can plug into the data jack of most phones. Software reads the information provided by the sensor and provides an accurate BAC reading.
The inventors of these new smart phone applications hope their products help consumers to make safer decisions about when they are okay to get behind the wheel of a car. In too many cases, people may think that they are sober enough to drive after a beer or two, only to find out too late that they are over the legal .08 BAC limit.
One app, called Breathometer, will be on sale later this year for $49, including a key-sized sensor that can fit on a key chain or in a pocket. Another company has made BACtrack, which costs $150 and also comes with its own sensor.
Considering that some safety experts and government agencies, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, have recommended that states lower their BAC limits to .05, it may become increasingly important for individuals to track their alcohol consumption personally when out for a night on the town. It remains to be seen whether these new Breathalyzer apps are the answer, but their creators are hopeful that people will see them as an essential decision making tool.
No matter the tools available, arresting drivers for DUI remains a priority for police departments across the country. A conviction for DUI can not only be expensive, but can also impact a person's life in unforeseen ways. An experienced criminal defense attorney can, however, help protect your rights.