For those people who have been unlucky enough to experience the high costs of a DUI or DWI conviction, you know the extremely high costs associated with drunk driving which include DUI defense attorney fees, court costs, cost of treatment classes, higher auto insurance, not to mention injury or death in some cases. There are some simple, inexpensive gadgets out there that can help to prevent you from getting behind the wheel when you've had a few too many.
I want to focus this article on people that may be border-line over-the-limit, which in most states is .08 blood alcohol content (BAC) or higher. There's no exact way of knowing just how much alcohol will effect each individual, because BAC levels can vary depending upon your weight, if you have any food in your stomach, and how much/fast you're consuming the alcohol. The California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs reports that a 150 lb. person who drinks three 12 oz. beers or glasses of wine every half hour will have a BAC level near the legal limit of .08. They also report average DUI or DWI conviction costs of about $5,540 (not including DUI defense attorney fees or lost wages). It's worth spending a few bucks on a device that can help monitor your BAC so that you don't end-up getting pulled over after having 4-5 beers during the game, and you end up blowing a .08 or .09.
Cops are ruthless when it comes to drunk driving, as well they should be. They won't hesitate to haul you off to jail for blowing just over the legal limit. I even had a friend who got a DUI for drinking and driving on a golf cart a few year back! He ended losing his job as a Fed-Ex truck driver, because he lost his license. I don't want to sound like I'm preaching here, but I know from personal experience that a DUI is expensive, inconvenient, embarrassing, and you can lose your job in some cases, like my friend did. Anyway - there's my MADD speech for you - now lets get to the gadgets that can help prevent a drunk driving mess. Keep in mind that these are only a few of the available devices on the market, so do your research before choosing one.
Backtrack Personal Breathalyzer
this personal breathalyzer is small enough to fit inside your pocket or purse, which makes it very convenient to bring anywhere. It features a patented technology called BluFire, which basically steadies the airflow when you blow into the device to provide more accurate results. Also, it doesn't have a mouthpiece to blow into (great for germaphobes!), so you can blow into it from up to a half inch away. It will give you your BAC within 3 seconds. (Amazon.com )
AlcoMate Prestige AL6000 Breathalyzer
This device is a lot like a typical breathalyzer where you blow into a mouthpiece to get your BAC reading. What makes it different, though, is a patent-pending technology that makes recalibrating this breathalyzer very easy to do. Most breathalyzers must be recalibrated every once in a while, and so you must ship the device somewhere to get calibrated and it ends up taking a lot of time to do all this. The Prestige, on the other hand, features a replaceable pre-calibrated alcohol sensor module that is easy to remove and replace when necessary. (Breathalcolyzer or Amazon )
Key chain Breathalyzer
Key chain Breathalyzer ($30)
There are a variety of key chain breathalyzers out there, and this is one of them. These are very convenient, because they are small enough to put on your key chain and are very inexpensive. They won't be as accurate as some of the more expensive models, but they are still better than nothing. This particular one even has a built-in flashlight and stopwatch - why, you ask; I have no clue, but it's still cool anyway. You can find some at Amazon for about $10. (Buy here )
Other emerging technologies that will help to eliminate drunk driving
There is some technology in the works right now that we'll probably see in the near future that are built-in to new cars. One of these is a patented sensor that was invented by Dr. Dennis Bellehumeur that would be built-in to a car's steering wheel and prevent the car from starting if it detects too much alcohol or drugs. This sensor works by detecting the amount of alcohol in your sweat. It then sends a signal to your car's ignition system essentially telling it to not start.
Nissan is just one of the automakers that is making the prevention of drunk driving one of their initiatives in their future cars. They are working on 3 prototype systems that would help eliminate drunk driving. One of these systems is a sensor placed in the gear-shift lever that would detect too much alcohol and then disable the ignition system. It would then prompt the driver, via the GPS screen, that alcohol was detected and the car can't be operated.
The second system being tested by Nissan involves a camera being mounted in front of the driver that would monitor the driver's eye movements. If it senses that the driver is dozing off, the car will automatically tighten the seatbelt a few times to try and jolt the driver to wake up.
The third prototype system that Nissan is working on is a sensor that monitors the path of the car. If the car is weaving around the road, the sensor will tighten the driver's seatbelt a few times and give voice and visual prompts on the GPS screen to try and alert the driver that they are all over the road. There's no word yet on when these 3 systems could actually hit the road, but Nissan hopes to begin putting this technology into their automobiles very soon.
These are just a few of the many tools that may help to save you from a DUI or DWI arrest in the future. When you consider the cost of a DUI defense attorney alone, it makes spending a $100 on a device like the ones listed above a no-brainer. Nobody knows for sure whether they are at a BAC level of 0.7 or 0.8 when they've had a few drinks at the bar, and that tiny difference in BAC can end-up costing you big time.
If you're a casual drinker who occasionally goes out and has 3-4 drinks, I would highly suggest investing in some kind of BAC tester just to be safe. If you go out all the time and drink all night, you got a whole new set of problems, and this article probably won't help you at all!
Joe Eitel's Gadget Blog
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