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Should you rely on a portable Breathalyzer to avoid a DUI?

These days, you can find just about anything you want online -- including a variety of portable Breathalyzers that are marketed directly to consumers (instead of law enforcement officers). Some of them are clearly designed for convenience during a night out. They're small enough to toss into a purse or the glove compartment of a car.

It's a quick, easy solution to that thorny problem you might experience when you've been out to eat at a nice restaurant or hanging with your friends in a bar to watch a game. You may have had a couple of drinks, but you don't think you're actually drunk. Checking your blood alcohol content (BAC) on a Breathalyzer can tell you if you're safe to drive fairly easily, right?

Wrong.

Here's the problem: Portable Breathalyzers may not be as accurate as you think.

Colorado has a problem with drunk drivers. In 2018, there were 209 fatalities involving impaired drivers and many more accidents. To increase awareness and reduce drunk driving accidents, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) even gave state residents a 50% discount on BACtrack portable breath analyzers through the end of September. BACtrack produces one of the highest-rated of these portable devices that are available to consumers.

While these devices are supposed to have only a margin of error of .001%, that only applies when they are both properly calibrated and used. The reality is that a device that's been bouncing around in your car or handbag for a few months may not be well-calibrated. It can also be difficult to self-administer the test correctly -- especially if you aren't sober.

It's also smart to remember that "actions speak louder than blood alcohol content." Even if your BAC is below the legal limit, you can still be too impaired to safely drive.

Be wise. Take an Uber, grab a Lyft or call a friend to pick you up if you've been drinking. It's far safer than relying on a portable breath analyzer. If you do make a mistake, perhaps after being mislead by one of those devices, make sure that you have a DUI defense attorney protecting your rights.

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