Breathalyzer In Bars May Not Be Accurate, Machine Test Could Mislead

At first glance, having a breathalyzer in bars may sound like a good idea, but could an inaccurate breathalyzer machine test cause some drinkers to inadvertently commit the crime of drunk driving?

In a related report by The Inquisitr, Utah lawmakers want to legally require a breathalyzer test in bars. While some clubs already offer the machines as a courtesy to their customers, this bill has caused controversy because of the mandatory aspect of the law.

It’s estimated that half of the deaths related to drunk driving involve at least one driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.16 or higher. Police have often relied on breathalyzer tests with roadside checks because it’s quick and easy to to check the alcohol/air concentration in comparison to blood tests. But over the years breathalyzer accuracy has come under fire, with some estimates claiming that one in four breathalyzer results are inaccurate.

For example, while police officers tend to use breathalyzer tests to establish probable cause for a DUI arrest, in actuality many times this evidence is not admissible in court. Lawyers will often challenge the breathalyzer accuracy because there’s various reasons that throw off the results. Listerine, certain gums, and breath sprays can potentially increase the BAC result from a breathalyzer. It’s also possible to fake out a breathalyzer test by hyperventilating, which can reduce the BAC result by up to 10 percent.

So just how bad could having a breathalyzer in bars actually be? It’s claimed by peer-reviewed studies that breathalyzer test results have a margin of error of 50 percent. This means if you check yourself at a club and the breathalyzer says 0.075 percent the actual BAC could be somewhere between 0.025 percent and 0.125 percent. This is the difference between legal driving and DUI charges!

In the end, what this means is that requiring a breathalyzer in bars would only be reasonable if customers are warned on the directions that a result of around 0.2 percent is definitely considered to be legally drunk based upon the margin of error. What do you think about making these machines mandatory?