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Companies market blood alcohol testers

People no longer have to be law enforcement officials to be able to use blood alcohol testers. In 2013, companies began to develop low-cost devices that test blood alcohol levels, which could be available as early as September. Individuals in different states, including California, could purchase these devices. Some equipment can be attached to mobile devices. Along with information on their blood alcohol levels, drinkers can often get information on restaurants to go to eat after a night of drinking from some devices. These pieces of equipment have the potential to help people to know when they have reached blood alcohol levels over the legal limit, stopping them from drunk driving. They could also cause individuals to try to monitor their blood alcohol levels to try to stay below the legal limit in case they are pulled over by police officers.

The devices are available for around $30 to $75, an amount considerably lower than devices such as the Intoxilyzer, used by police departments across the country. Individuals who use the lower-cost blood alcohol detectors don't have to be trained on their use as police officers do on higher-cost devices that cost up to $10,000. Companies are marketing low-cost devices that use fuel cell units or tin oxide semiconductors to estimate alcohol levels. Blood alcohol testing equipment used by police departments often use infrared light technologies that measure blood alcohol levels.

Equipment used by police officers throughout the country in police stations or on the side of the road is considered more reliable than lower-cost devices offered to the public. The highly-sensitive equipment used by the police can detect blood alcohol levels even at low levels. The accuracy of readings on the new devices has not yet been determined. In court, readings from these new devices may not be allowed as evidence.

Traditional blood alcohol tests used by police officers are used in courts throughout the country in DUI cases. These tests can have a major impact over whether individuals are brought up on charges by judges. Drivers often have stronger cases when their attorneys can use results from traditional tests to show that they were under their states' legal blood alcohol level limits. Attorneys can often build stronger cases if they can show that equipment or methods used by law enforcement officials was faulty.

Source: New York Times, "Blood Alcohol Testers for Those Without Badges ", Matthew Wald, July 03, 2013

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