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Do smartphone Breathalyzer applications work?

For the cost of about $50, you can own a special device that attaches to your smartphone that functions as a pocket Breathalyzer device. The companies that build these apps say they can help you make better decisions when you're trying to figure out if you should drive home or call Uber. The question is: Do they work?

According to police, smartphone Breathalyzer devices are unreliable, and they could result in you getting behind the wheel when you shouldn't be. To test whether police are correct on this point, a team from Rossen Reports decided to stage a summer barbecue with cocktails to test the devices and compare them with those police officers use.

The New Jersey State Police attended the party with their official Breathalyzer machine -- they same one they use to make arrests in the field. If the Breathalyzer device reads blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher after a driver blows into it, the police are allowed to take the driver into custody and accuse him or her of DUI.

During the afternoon party, one participant drank six cocktails. According to the official Breathalyzer, she was drunk with a BAC of 0.175 -- over double the limit -- and police could have arrested her if they caught her behind the wheel. As for how she felt personally, she felt she was drunk enough to be at risk of DUI.

Interestingly, however, the "Breathometer" brand cellphone app gave her a BAC of just 0.06. Next, the "Alcohoot" app read that she was at 0.16 percent. Finally, the BACtrack Mobil app said she was at 0.21 percent. As a result, one out of three of the tested apps would have dangerously sent the woman on the road even though she was too drunk to drive. The other apps, however, would have prevented her from driving.

Ultimately, it doesn't seem like these cellphone Breathalyzer apps are perfectly reliable. Furthermore, it's well known that the best way to avoid a DUI accusation is simply not to driver after you have consumed any amount of alcohol.

Have you been accused of DUI? A Queens drunk driving defense lawyer can formulate a strategy to defend you against the charges.

Source: Today, "Can Breathalyzer phone apps tell you whether you're legally drunk?," Jeff Rossen and Josh Davis, accessed March 26, 2017

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