Some bars and nightclubs have installed pay-to-use breath test systems. There are even some companies that directly market pocket testing devices to consumers. For as little as a few hundred dollars, people can have their own pocket test to check their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) before driving.
For those who particularly enjoy going out with friends on the weekend to dance or who consider themselves IPA connoisseurs, investing in a test device to validate whether they are safe to drive before leaving a venue might seem like a very smart choice. They can perform a breath test and then know if they can drive themselves home. Unfortunately, such devices might actually give people a false sense of confidence and could ultimately lead to them getting arrested for an impaired driving offense. Why is testing before driving not sufficient to protect someone from an arrest?
BAC can keep rising
Unless it has been some time since the individual has finished consuming alcohol, they may experience a rising BAC even after performing the test and starting their vehicle. It takes a while for alcohol to enter the bloodstream and even longer to break it down, especially if someone has had quite a bit to drink. Someone may continue to feel more intoxicated for some time after they finish drinking. Essentially, their BAC goes up after they tested at a level indicating they were safe to drive because more alcohol enters their bloodstream. People who believe they can safely drive could get pulled over 15 minutes later and test at noticeably over the legal limit.
A personal device could be inaccurate
Proper calibration and device maintenance are crucial if people expect to get accurate results when performing a breath test for alcohol. Both devices maintained at local businesses and pocket units could end up uncalibrated or with outdated software and could potentially return inaccurate results. People could end up with a wildly inaccurate understanding of their BAC before choosing whether or not to drive.
If people understand the limits of pocket breath tests, they can still be a valuable tool for those who want to drink responsibly. Learning more about the benefits – and limitations – of different safety systems can protect those who hope to avoid an impaired driving charge.