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Private citizens can measure own blood alcohol content

Florida drivers may be interested to learn that blood alcohol testing devices are becoming more commercially available. Technology changed significantly from the time that Breathalyzers could only be owned by police and required training to be operated. Now, a person can buy one of these devices at stores for as little as $30 and may be able to find one that fits on a keychain. There are also products that plug into a person's cell phone. It is thought that these devices can help drivers avoid DUI charges.

The devices can help parents verify whether a child has been drinking. They may also be a more accurate way for a person to determine impairment than counting how many drinks have been consumed. A representative for one manufacturer states that the average citizens cannot tell on their own whether they have a blood alcohol level that is too high to drive.

However, manufacturers warn that impairment can vary for each individual, so a safe reading will not automatically avoid a DUI accusation. These devices have been described as educational tools, not guarantees that a person will not be stopped or will be under the limit if tested. Testing equipment used by police is still not commercially available and requires special training. The methods used by these instruments are not the ones used by machines sold to the general public. One lobbyist expressed concern that some people may use these devices to get as close to the legal limit as possible, a dangerous idea if the device has not been calibrated recently.

When a person is accused of DUI, a local attorney may be able to help. It may be possible to dispute the original stop or to negotiate a favorable plea bargain.

Source: New York Times, "Blood Alcohol Testers for Those Without Badges ", Matthew Wald, July 03, 2013

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