Should All Drivers Carry a Portable Breath Test (PBT)?

It is not illegal to drink and drive – it’s illegal to drink too much and drive. But how much is “too much”? Michigan law says you cannot have a bodily alcohol content (BAC) equal to or greater than .08. Not many know exactly how much you have to drink to achieve that level or higher.  It is different for every person depending on your gender, body weight and your body’s ability to eliminate alcohol. In this society, it is common for someone to drink one or two drinks and drive. It is also common for a client charged with drunk driving to ask me “how was I supposed to know what my bodily alcohol content was?”

While a majority of us haven’t been pulled over for suspicion of DUI, this is a story that all of us fear. No one intends to get in their car and drive home intoxicated. Nevertheless, it happens. Unfortunately, a lot of people assume that their bodily feelings and coordination correlate to their Blood Alcohol Content, or BAC.

For example, let’s say you’ve had some drinks. You know you would have some reading on a breathalyzer, but because you don’t feel drunk you probably won’t blow over the limit. Or so you think. The way our bodies react to our alcohol consumption is NEVER an exact indicator of our actual BAC. Often times, many people guess they will be under but in reality, they have no idea until the police tell them when it’s too late.

To counteract this “guesstimation”, some European cities are requiring motor vehicle operators to purchase and carry breathalyzer kits for their cars. France, for example, requires its drivers to purchase one of two breathalyzer kits. One is an electronic, reusable model (comes with a hefty price tag), and the other one is a cheaper one-time use model. While use of these products isn’t required, having them available is. Failing to have one available in your car carries a fine of 11 Euros ($14USD).

While this law is NOT in place in the United States yet, it does represent a move towards preventing drunk driving instead of policing it. Frankly, I believe that it is a good idea to have one available in your vehicle at all times. Even though it isn’t required by law, it may save you some headaches and money. These self-tests are not admissible in court, and are not calibrated to the same standards as police agencies use.

Do not ever rely on these breathalyzers as an accurate reading of your BAC. If you blow a .07, don’t risk it. The error rate may still put you over the limit. Although, if it reads .15 do not drive and call a cab.

Best Buy offers several options for personal breathalyzers. While it may cost you some money in the short term, it may save you thousands in the long term. If anything else, you’ll have the greatest cocktail party toy known to mankind.

On the other hand, if you find yourself in need of an experienced DUI trial lawyer with extensive training in DUI science and defense call (248) 368-0038 and Talk to Bart!