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Colorado’s Breathalyzer Program Helps Lower Risk of DUI

| (Google+)

Unlike a standard breathalyzer, shown, participants in CDO’s summer breathalyzer phones were given smartphone-linked devices to use.

The Colorado Department of Transportation has reported that its breathalyzer program has had good results, with 84 percent of participants agreeing that owning a smartphone breathalyzer did indeed lower their risk of a DUI or DWAI.

CDOT ran the program during the summer, distributing smartphone breathalyzers to 225 randomly chosen participants in the metropolitan Denver area. Fully 82 percent of participants agreed that it would be important for anyone who drinks on a regular basis to own a breathalyzer.

Before participating in the program, 79 percent of participants said they believed they may have driven while over the DUI blood-alcohol limit. However, after using breathalyzers in the program, only 12 percent said they thought they might have driven while impaired.

Anti-DUI Resources

Sam Cole, CDOT Communications Manager, said:

It’s not only CDOT’s responsibility to educate Colorado drivers about the dangers, laws and consequences of impaired driving, but also introduce them to resources that help them make smart decisions while drinking.

BACtrack, a company that manufactures smartphone breathalyzers, was a partner with CDOT in the program. One goal of the program was to provide insight on Coloradans’ drinking habits, especially relating to driving. Participants used the breathalyzers during the summer, and answered surveys about the experience, with an average of 21 BAC readings per person. Those conducting the program found that the average BAC level for participants was .087 percent, higher than Colorado’s .08 percent limit for a DUI.

Other interesting results of the program were that although 92 percent of participants knew that Colorado’s BAC limit for a DUI is .08, only 47 percent of participants knew about the Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) limit of .05 percent; and that 92 percent of participants said they thought they had been a passenger with a driver whose BAC was over the legal limit.

The program found that participants collectively took the highest number of breathalyzer readings on Fridays and Saturdays. The averages for Fridays were .082 percent, and for Saturdays, .096 percent. And despite Sundays having half as many breathalyzer readings, Sunday had the highest average BAC of any day, measuring .101 percent.

‘Eye-Opening’ Breathalyzer Readings

Participants provided a range of testimonials. One person said the breathalyzer provides scientific evidence that a person is inebriated, making it easier for him or her to convince a friend not to drive. Another said the program was “very eye-opening” because it showed BAC levels over the limit much more often than expected. A third participant said the breathalyzer convinced a friend to call an Uber car to get home, instead of driving. Participants who completed the program got to keep the breathalyzer, which is worth about $100.

Wearable Alcohol Sensor

In a related news item, Laurie L. Dove reports that University of California San Diego researchers have developed a flexible, wearable sensor that sends an alert to a person’s smartphone when he or she has had too much to drink.

The flexible, wireless device, designed by researchers in the departments of nano engineering, and electrical and computer engineering, is referred to as a “wearable tattoo.” The device releases tiny amounts to pilocarpine, a drug that induces sweat. It then measures the ethanol levels in the sweat and sends that information to a smartphone, computer, or other mobile device via Bluetooth.

That device is not yet on the market. The creators hope it will eventually help law enforcement officers in ways that surpass existing technology. For example, wearable alcohol sensors may prove to be more accurate than breathalyzers, which can detect alcohol vapor in gum and mouthwash. And the wearable sensors give the same quality of result as a blood alcohol test in only 15 minutes, without the need for law enforcement officers to draw blood or test it.

Image by Pashkov Andrey/123RF.


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