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Hello, smartphone? Am I drunk?

New app can help measure blood alcohol level -- before you get behind the wheel.

By Anne Hurley Mar 13, 2013 4:11PM
You know the drill. You're out with friends for drinks and laughs, and one thing, and one drink, leads to another. How do you know at the end of the evening if you're really OK to drive home?

While nobody intentionally wants to put themselves and other people at risk by driving while impaired, the guessing game of what your blood alcohol level might be after a night of carousing is just too imprecise. Especially because you've already had a few.

Enter Breathometer, a brand-new, two-part smartphone app and device announced Tuesday, which is a kind of a portable "drinking conscience" that lets you do an actual breathalyzer test with your smartphone and shows you the results on the spot. The app, which is available for pre-order for iPhone and Android phones, will be released this summer.

Home breathalyzer tests have been available since the 1950s, and there are even a few devices that plug into a smartphone to use the phone as a power source. But Breathometer is different, says Breathometer founder and CEO Charles Michael Yim, who spoke with MSN Healthy Living Tuesday evening from Austin, Texas, where he is at SXSW to announce the app.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), every 53 minutes someone is killed in a drunk driving crash--9,878 people in 2011. And every 90 seconds, someone is injured by a drunk driver. Breathometer partnered with the online real-time poll site SodaHead.com, where surveys showed that 64 percent of respondents said that either they have driven while intoxicated or that they have been in a car with a driver under the influence. Those are pretty scary stats.

"This app and device makes it really easy to decide whether you should drive after drinking alcohol," Yim says. "You just launch the app on your phone, and then blow into the hardware, and your phone will tell you your blood alcohol level." The legal level of intoxication is different in every state, but .08 percent is the lowest level that certain states consider intoxicated, so if you blow that or higher, it's time to hand over your keys.

The device that plugs into your phone is small and fits on a keychain--so handy!--so it can be with you any time you, or someone you're with, decides to have a cocktail or three.
May 14, 2013 6:37PM

Its a great idea... whether its for those that just don't know what drunk means, or for those that are on the border line and don't want to get tattooed with the DD brand for life.


Whether you are being responsible or using it to stay out of jail, either way it keeps a drunk from driving. I just don't see how that's a bad thing.

May 14, 2013 6:14PM
I cant wait to get hammered and try it out while im driving!
May 14, 2013 6:51PM
They should just require ignition lock devices on all cars, then no car will start if you are over set limit.  But then how will the courts and insurance companies make a profit.
May 14, 2013 6:51PM
A good idea. People can get instant feedback before they drive. They set the limit at .08 but unless you have a breathalyzer, you just don't know what .08 is.
May 14, 2013 10:41PM

I can already see whats going to happen! you get pulled over  you tell the officer that you blew a .07 on your smart phone. LOL!!!!

May 14, 2013 8:37PM
Well, I don't trust it. I want reviews on accuracy. I researched personal breathalyzers a few years ago. All of them had way too much variance for me to feel comfortable. I ended getting a professional handheld, just like cops, probation, and parole use. It was $500.00, and it's been very educational...
May 14, 2013 7:13PM

Depending on how your body metabolizes alcohol (we are all different)  1/2 a 12 oz can of beer can put you over the legal limit. Its smarter to just have a DD if you are going out for drinks. While this app is pretty smart and I am sure will help those who use it the way its intended the best method will always be...don't drive if you have a drink or stay home and drink. It's just not worth it.

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