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Breathalyzing yourself: Is it the answer to the DUI problem?

In a December 31, 2014 article for the Atlantic, the president and founder of BACtrack, a personal breath test company, likened the drunk driving problem in the United States to driving a car without a speedometer. If speedometers help us to avoid speeding tickets, why don't we have a tool to help us avoid drunk driving arrests? It was on this question that Keith Nothacker founded his company.

For many people in present society, there is a negative stigma associated with personal breath tests due in part to ignition interlock devices. Like a speedometer, ignition interlock devices are designed to tell you when you are breaking the law, thereby preventing you from doing so. But these devices are only installed after a conviction, making them useless to those who are actively trying to avoid this outcome. 

This is where personal breath tests come into play. In some cases, they may be small enough to fit on a key chain, giving the driver a discrete, inexpensive and preemptive way to test their BAC before getting behind the wheel. Based on the results, a driver could make the decision whether or not to drive, instead of realizing too late that they were over the legal limit.

A future with personal breath tests

Though it's impossible to predict how effective personal breath tests could be at preventing future DUIs, the fact of the matter is that it's a far better solution than what most people have now. Presently, people have to use a lot of speculative guesswork when assessing their intoxication level, oftentimes wondering if they've waited long enough after their last drink to bring them to a safe level.

Most drivers in this situation take a huge risk when getting behind the wheel - a risk they might have been able to avoid if they had access to a personal breath test.

Until personal breath tests become socially acceptable and more people choose to purchase them, driving while intoxicated will continue to be like driving a car without a speedometer, which is not a scenario most people would want to be in.

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