So let’s talk about getting wasted on alcohol. When is a drinker drunk? Have you ever tried to talk reason to someone you know was getting too loaded for their own good, let alone too drunk to drive? It’s generally a losing game if they’re too far gone, so the only way to keep them and everyone else on the road safe is to hide their keys. But what about someone who is only slightly high? And what if you’re wondering yourself if you can hit the road or maybe order a cheeseburger and coffee and wait an hour? How do you know if you or someone else is too drunk to drive, at least according to legal blood alcohol content limits?
The last thing anyone wants is for an inebriated driver to cause an accident and injure people. According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), in 2013 more than 10,000 people were killed in alcohol-related auto accidents in the U.S. Even you don’t get into an accident, if you drive drunk enough to fail a police breathalyzer test, the consequences can range from inconvenient to expensive to severe.
One answer that might make a difference to a tipsy friend — and can come in handy if you’re mindful of your own sobriety — is one of the many portable breathalyzers on the market that range in price from $6.00 to about $200.00. They all work in pretty much the same way: you blow into a tube and a blood alcohol content (BAC) reading show up on a LED, LCD, or smartphone or tablet screen.
Edge Tech Labs, LLC’s DrinkMate, which sells for $29.95 in iOS or Android versions, gets its power from the microUSB port on an Android phone or tablet or Lightning connector in iPhones and iPads. DrinkMate is different from the majority of breathalyzers in that you don’t put your lips on a round tube and blow; you merely blow into the inlet on the end of the DrinkMate. This eliminates the problem of sharing a mouthpiece with someone else in order to get readings.
The key-chain style DrinkMate warms up in seven seconds when plugged into a mobile device and displays BAC test results instantly. According to the manufacturer, the inlet is designed to direct and control the speed the air flow over the sensor for consistent, accurate results. They state the accuracy is approximately +/- 0.01% BAC at a BAC of 0.02%. The maximum reading is 0.20% which might be a limitation for drinking contests for the foolish, but anyone that far gone is way past the line of safety for rational (and the intended) use of the device.
You don’t have to be completely gone to be too impaired to drive. The DrinkMate, whether it’s 100% accurate or not, serves the dual purpose of providing BAC readings and reminding people why it’s important to be aware of impairment.