App encourages responsible drinking, driving

Breathalyzer app plugs into smartphone

By Tara Evans - Executive Producer

ORLANDO, Fla. - Getting pulled over is always top of mind after a night out, especially because it's common knowledge that drinking to excess and driving is dangerous.

Even buzzed driving is dangerous.

Across the United States, the legal blood alcohol content limit is .08. But a recent study by the University of California, San Diego found drivers with even just a .01 blood alcohol content are 46 percent more likely to be officially blamed for a crash than sober drivers.

In fact, blowing below a .08 on a breathalyzer test does not even mean you cannot be charged for driving under the influence.

The Florida Safety Council sees it all the time.

"There is no safe amount of alcohol to drink and then go drive. You can be a .04, .06, .07 and get charged," said Glenn Victor, spokesperson for the Florida Safety Council. "Maybe you don't get the conviction, but you've still gone through all the headache that someone has been convicted has been."

That includes being taken to jail, having your car towed and impounded-- which you need to pay for-- taking a DUI class, doing community service, and more--
all of which can cost upwards of $7,000.

"That's one expensive six pack, if you ask me," said Victor.

But now there are several breathalyzer apps out there on the market which just attach to your smartphone. Local 6 tested one of those, called the Breathometer. The company said it is FDA-approved and costs about $50.

You plug the device into your Apple or Android smartphone, and it calibrates. Once it loads up, the device reminds you to wait until at least 20 minutes has passed since your last drink for a more accurate reading.

Once it has, you press start and breathe into a blue-lit sensor for five seconds.

That's when the device will tell you what it measures your blood alcohol content level to be, and gives you an estimation of how long you need to wait before you sober up.

The Longwood Police Department said it can be a useful tool.

"We welcome them, any technology that will make people aware of drunk driving, but it will give a false sense of security," said Officer Kevin Tuck.

That's because any alcohol in your system can make driving dangerous and can end in jailtime.

"Understand that there's many factors we're looking for, not just blowing an your app," said Officer Tuck. "We're pulling you over and when you say, 'Well, my app said...' well, we don't go by your app, we go by conducted field sobriety exercises that have been approved by the State of Florida."

"Some of the things that the officer might observe is weaving while they're driving down the road," said Victor. "Turning without a turn signal, things to that nature, driving maybe not too fast, but too slow. So now that officer pulls that driver over, and gets them out of the car and if they smell alcohol or suspect that driver may be under the influence, their speech is slurred, their eyes are glassy, they may conduct roadside sobriety tests at that time. They may ask them to say their ABCs, touch their nose, those kinds of things, and of course ultimately, if they want to they can ask that driver to blow into the breathalzyer to check the alcohol level so again, the best bet, if you're gonna drink just don't drive."

The Breathometer also has a feature that shows you nearby cab companies so a safe ride is right there at your fingertips, which Church Street Tavern owner John Brown said may just be enough of a wake up call.

"The more drinks you have, the less good sense you have," said Brown.

"This will generate conversation amongst people, create more what we'll call top of mind awareness about the dangers of driving after drinking," said Victor. "How dangerous it is and how serious it is, it's a crime."

If you're interested in a breathalyzer device, here are several we found:





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