Many people don’t have any idea how intoxicated they are before they get into a vehicle and start to drive. To ensure their own safety (and perhaps the safety of others), some people turn to personalized breathalyzers: devices that can be purchased by non-law enforcement individuals to test their blood alcohol content (BAC). Some bars and taverns may offer use of these devices, too, to test their patrons’ BAC. If the patron is drunk, then the bar or restaurant can make sure the patron finds a safer way home.

On the surface, these devices seem like they could save lives. Realistically, they offer a false sense of security. A piece in the Chicago Tribune discusses the following considerations and features of personal breathalyzers, reminding folks that even the best of intentions doesn’t necessarily keep you safe.

Personal breathalyzers are just as flawed as the ones law enforcement uses

In November, the New York Times investigated the unreliable nature of breath tests used by law enforcement. Personal breathalyzers are just as unreliable, often for the same reasons:

  • They offer false positives
  • Their materials may be inferior, leading to errors
  • They require fine tuning and recalibration, which most users are unequipped to do

Most importantly, however, is the false sense of security that these devices provide. The Tribune piece argues that “A personal breathalyzer provides a realistic BAC result that distinguishes between buzzed and legally intoxicated,” but this is misleading. You do not have be over the legal BAC limit to be arrested for driving under the influence. If you have any alcohol in your system at all, and you are pulled over by law enforcement, you can be arrested and charged with DUI or DWI. Drivers who “blow” a .04 BAC may feel overconfident because they are under the .08 limit, but they can still be arrested. If that person drives a commercial truck, he or she can lose his or her CDL, even if he or she was off-duty or on vacation at the time of the arrest.

The results of a personal breathalyzer test are not admissible in court

If your personal breathalyzer says you have a .06 BAC, but the official breath test performed by law enforcement says you have a .08, the judge will not give you a free pass.

Anyone charged with a DUI or DWI in Maryland, even with a first-time offense, will likely be required to spend time in jail, to pay large fines, to have their license suspended, to pay increased insurance premiums, and face other consequences. In tragic cases, an intoxicated driver may injure or kill themselves a passenger, or the occupants of other cases.

At Carey Law Office, an experienced and respected Bowie and Crofton DUI lawyer will work to dismiss breath tests, field sobriety tests, and blood or urine tests – if the police didn’t have grounds to give the tests or the tests were invalid. For 37 years, attorney Joseph Carey has been fighting for the rights of people arrested and charged with driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated. To speak with a skilled aggressive defense lawyer, call us at 301-464-2500 or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation.