Can You Trust A Personal Breathalyzer’s Results?

On behalf of Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A. posted in drunk driving on Tuesday, December 11, 2018.

Do personal Breathalyzers actually work?

Ever since companies figured out how to manufacturer small personal Breathalyzers fairly inexpensively, they’ve been appearing in bars and at parties — anywhere people are drinking. The idea is that people can use them to see if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is safely under the legal limit (.08 percent) to drive. They’re supposed to give you a more accurate picture of your BAC than you can get using one of those charts that you can find online that give you an idea of your BAC based on your gender, weight and how much you’ve had to drink.

Let’s be clear about something here: there’s no “safe” amount of alcohol in your system when it comes to driving. The only surefire way to avoid a drunk driving charge — and a drunk driving accident — is to not get behind the wheel when you’ve been drinking.

That being said, can you rely on personal Breathalyzers for accuracy? Will they tell you, with any degree of certainty, what you want to know?

Frankly, you should be less than certain about the results you get from any personal Breathalyzer device. According to researchers, the BACtrack S80 is among the most accurate available for consumer use — but it still has a possible error range of .005 percent. That’s not something you want if you’re relying on it to keep you out of handcuffs. In addition, all personal Breathalyzers need to be periodically calibrated to be even remotely accurate. If you have one sitting in your closet that you only drag out once a year, it’s probably not going to give you very good results.

Keychain Breathalyzers have also gained in popularity — probably because of their lower price and portability. However, the margin of error you can expect is at least .02 percent, which is considerable.

Ultimately, if you want to avoid significant legal trouble over a drunk driving charge, Uber is a far wiser investment than any personal Breathalyzer device.

If you’ve made a mistake and are facing drunk driving charges, make sure that you have an attorney protecting your rights.

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