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BAC tracking technologies: use them, but know their limits

Chicago readers may have heard about a brand new personal breathalyzer by the name of BACtrack. As Mark McDermott notes in a recent blog post, BACtrack is the most compact version yet of a personal breathalyzer, and is bound to catch the interest of those who frequently go out to drink but who want to avoid driving illegally.

The technology works by combining a so-called MicroCheck Sensor technology in a small device the size of a keychain and Bluetooth technology. Keith Nothacker, CEO of BACtrack, has said that the goal of the technology is to “help consumers better understand how alcohol effects their bodies and [to] make smarter, more informed decision.” 

No doubt, this is a helpful thing, but users of this technology should not automatically assume they are okay to drive if their BACtrack gives them the thumbs up. Police aren’t going to care whether your personal breathalyzer said you were sober or not. What is going to matter is what they observe about your driving, your appearance, whether there is alcohol in your vehicle, your performance in roadside sobriety tests, your overall demeanor and their own breath, blood or urine testing. All of these things, of course, are integral parts of what police look at in building a case for drunk driving.

It should also be borne in mind that prosecutors can still have a viable case for DUI even when the defendant’s BAC was below the legal limit. It all depends on whether the evidence shows alcohol consumption to have impacted the individual’s ability to safely operate his or her vehicle to a legally appreciable degree.

None of this is to pooh-pooh the BACtrack and similar technologies. Just be aware of what how it may be useful and how it may not be useful.

Source: Chicago Now, “BACtrack Vio: A Keychain-sized Breathalyzer,” Mark McDermott, July 16, 2014. 

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