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Can personal breath-test devices be trusted?

When getting together with friends, it isn't uncommon for adults to enjoy a few alcoholic beverages. Whether gathering at a bar, restaurant or private residence, many people do the responsible thing and take precautions to avoid driving while over the legal alcohol limit. Many people might limit their drink intake or arrange a safe ride home.

New technology might also prove tempting to people looking to abide by drunk driving laws. In recent years, various personal breath test devices have appeared on the market. Many of these rely on smartphones to provide individuals with a measure of their blood alcohol content in a way that resembles breath-test technology used by police.

Of course, there may be concerns about the accuracy of breath tests available on the market to the average consumer. According to a report from news affiliate WCPO, variations in results from personal breath-test devices is enough to raise concerns. In this inquiry, multiple people used two different forms of testing technology and received different results with each one. On a more concerning note, one device showed a person under the legal limit and the same person was over the limit according to a different testing option.

Not only does this report's brief look into personal breath testing technology raise questions, so does an article recently published by our firm.

Breathalyzer devices used by police officers may not always provide consistent or accurate results, according to a study included in the article. Knowing that police breath-test machines are supposed to be calibrated regularly, why should anyone trust results from a consumer device that isn't maintained in the same way?

People try to do the right thing by driving only when they feel comfortable doing so. Whether a person is relying on past experience or personal breath-testing technology, he or she could wind up facing charges for drunk driving. In other words, responsible people can make a one-time mistake that could prove to be very costly.

Source: WCPO.com, "How accurate are personal breathalyzers?" Adam Marshall, Feb. 24, 2014

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