Smartphone Breathalyzer Tells You If You're Safe to Drive

By Bryan Le 03/20/13

Could portable, digital breathalyzers stop drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel?

Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
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Ever wanted to know your blood-alcohol content (BAC) without the added hassle of getting pulled over by cops? A new portable Breathometer plugs into the audio jack of an iPhone or Android and connects to an app to measure your BAC. The device, which costs 20$ to pre-order, stows in your pocket or on a keyring, and may be more stylish than carrying a hefty BAC measuring device into a bar or club. "The focus for us is to reduce as many drunk driving accidents as there are and ultimately potentially even save lives," says Breathometer CEO Charles Michael Yim. The app also includes a feature that allows you to call a cab directly, or to locate nearby friends who could give you a lift. It may sound like the solution to drunk driving, which kills an estimated 11,000 people each year. But the new device may not be 100% fool-proof, as consumer-grade breathalyzers tend to be much less accurate than the ones used by cops. A video by a law enforcement breath tester company finds that personal breathalyzers can interpret a 0.07 BAC level as being anywhere from 0.00 to 0.24 BAC, since they tend to rely on smaller, cheaper semiconductor oxide sensors that more accurately detect the presence of alcohol than the amount. But the Breathometer device seems to have broad appeal: they have already raised $67,910 of their $25,000 goal with 25 days left in their drive. Between one of these and the DUI-catcher app, smartphones could be the ticket to reducing drunk driving accidents.

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter