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Why personal breathalyzers aren’t more popular

DUI laws across the nation are getting stricter as lawmakers attempt to combat drunk driving fatalities, which appear to be at a standstill in recent years. In fact, The Atlantic reported that a DUI offense can cost up to $20,000 in fines when everything is said and done.

So why do people continue to drive drunk? In many cases, the problem is that people are unaware that they have had too much to drink. They don’t have any intention of driving drunk or hurting anyone, they just are simply unaware that they are over the legal limit to drive. 

In Georgia and the rest of the United States, it is illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol content level of .08 percent or higher. But the .08 threshold isn’t exactly easy to determine. Factors such as body weight, age and what a person has had to eat that day can affect the BAC level.

The founder and president of BACtrack thought he had come up with a solution to the problem when he designed a personal breathalyzer 14 years ago that people could carry in their pockets or purses and get an accurate reading of their BAC level before driving.

The BACtrack founder compared being arrested for a DUI without being able to test your own BAC level to being arrested for speeding without having a speedometer.

The devices cost anywhere from $30 to over $100 depending on the technology used, which is obviously much less expensive than paying for a DUI charge.

However, BACtrack and similar devices have been slow to catch on and The Atlantic reported that less than 1 percent of drivers carry one.

The Atlantic noted that there are a variety of reasons why the personal BAC testers haven’t gained popularity. For example, some feel the device could suggest that they have a drinking or DUI problem, while others believe that they can determine their own ability to drive just fine.

Additionally, some groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving oppose the devices saying that it could give people a false sense of their driving abilities when they are actually impaired.

Ultimately, the devices could get more popular as the cost of a DUI continues to rise in Georgia and elsewhere. Would you consider purchasing a personal breathalyzer? Let us know why or why not in the comments below.

Source:  The Atlantic, "Why Not Just Breathalyze Yourself?" Paula Vasan, Dec. 31, 2014