Are You Too Drunk To Drive Home This New Year’s Eve?

Mobile Breathalyzers Claim They Can Tell

Every year, thousands of Christmas parties, football Bowl gatherings and New Year’s Eve celebrations end in tragic drunk driving crashes. Revelers often drive because they “feel fine” after drinking too much. Often drinkers don’t notice the subtle changes in their coordination, judgment and reaction time that substantially increases the risk of a DWI car crash. 

Texas law makes driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or higher illegal. Multiple factors, such as weight, gender and food, in addition to the amount of alcohol consumed, affect the BAC level.

Several smartphone breathalyzer devices have hit the market that reportedly calculate BAC. I appreciate that a personal breathalyzer might stop some drinkers from driving after registering an illegal level. However, these machines are not foolproof and can lull an intoxicated person into getting behind the wheel.

For starters, a person may be too impaired to drive at a much lower percentage of BAC. Studies have shown that people are affected by alcohol at .05 percent BAC and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) estimates that up to 2,000 could be saved annually if the legal driving limit was reduced from .08 to .05 percent BAC. Scoring a .07 BAC on the mobile breathalyzer, therefore, does not actually mean a person is OK to drive.

Also, the mobile devices may not be accurate. A New York Times journalist tested the machines against a law enforcement Breathalyzer and determined that some showed variations. A high BAC reading will simply prompt a partygoer to find another ride home. But a low BAC reading could encourage someone to drive — and maybe even have one more drink before doing so.

In addition, a potential driver may not account for the increase in BAC since drinking a last cocktail. The alcohol takes time to enter the bloodstream, and so he may feel fine and register a BAC that is below the legal limit, but become drunk once already on the road. 

The police officer interviewed by the New York Times concluded that “You can’t rely on a personal breathalyzer to tell you if you’re too drunk to drive. You shouldn’t drive if you’ve been drinking, period.”

Tarrant County No-Refusal Period

Tarrant County has launched its no-refusal period through New Year’s Day. This means is that police officers can compel suspected drunk drivers to get their blood tested. Officers have 24/7 access to judges during the no-refusal period to obtain immediate warrants to collect blood samples for BAC testing.

Unfortunately, officers cannot catch all drunk drivers before they injure others. If you were injured by a drunk driver, our injury law firm can help you recover damages. Call our Dallas-Fort Worth law office for a free no-risk case evaluation.

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