In this segment from TV’s The Doctors, the latest in breathalyzer technology is demonstrated outside a Chicago bar:

Drunk driving is back in the news, due largely to the death of Jackass star Ryan Dunn, who killed himself and a passenger in a horrific alcohol-related car crash last month. Dunn’s blood alcohol level was .19, which is more than twice the legal limit in Pennsylvania, where the accident occurred. Though drunk driving deaths have declined in the United States during the past 20 years, it is an issue that is still prevalent. Alcohol is the primary factor behind nearly a third of all traffic fatalities, and over 1.5 million Americans are arrested for driving while intoxicated every year.

Breathalyzers are used by police officers to measure the BAC (blood alcohol content, or percentage of alcohol in the blood) in a person suspected of driving drunk. A BAC of .10 means that one tenth of one percent of the person’s blood is alcohol. In the United States, a BAC of .08 or higher qualifies a person as legally drunk and too impaired to operate a motor vehicle.

Alcohol can negatively impact space and depth perception, making it difficult to navigate traffic safely. It can also cause blurred vision and drowsiness, as well as slow down reaction time, all of which may affect the ability to recognize and avoid a dangerous driving situation. A common myth is that some individuals drive better under the influence of alcohol, but this has been disproved many times. While alcohol affects everyone differently, mostly according to age, size and how fast the body processes it, being legally drunk means that driving ability is significantly compromised. In other words: if you’ve had more than one or two drinks, you have no business trying to drive.

While breathalyzers are most often used by police, they also can be found in bars so that patrons can determine if they’re too drunk to drive. With new, smaller handheld models such as the ones featured in the video above, it may allow people to show friends and loved ones who have partied a little too much clear, undeniable evidence that they need to find another way home, so that they don’t put their own or anybody else’s lives at risk.

Gena Radcliffe
Medex Supply Blogger

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