Recently, the Colorado Department of Transportation partnered with BACtrack in an innovative study to determine the impact personal breathalyzers may have on an individual’s decision to drink and drive. The study distributed BACtrack’s Mobile breathalyzer to be used in conjunction with a recipient’s smartphone during the summer. The device works by taking a reading of users’ blood-alcohol concentration (“BAC”) on the personal Breathalyzer and displaying the results on an application downloaded onto the user’s smartphone. The device also provides users with a time frame as to how long it might take for their BAC to return to 0.00%. Participants were asked to use the devices throughout the duration of the study and complete surveys related to the participants’ drinking habits and usage of the personal mobile breathalyzers. According to a recent release from PR Newswire, data from the initial surveys was troublesome while overall data compiled at the end of the study showed that these devices may reduce drunk driving in Colorado.
The initial data collected by surveys at the beginning of the study indicated that most people, roughly 92% of participants, were aware that Colorado’s legal BAC for a DUI is 0.08%. This level is in line with other states across the country, as well as many other countries. However, Colorado and many other states also have a lesser charge related to drinking and driving known as Driving While Ability Impaired (“DWAI”) which a person can be charged and potentially convicted with if they have a BAC of 0.05%. While this is a lesser charge, it still carries severe consequences for people who may receive it. More than half of the study’s participants, or roughly 53%, were initially unaware of the potential for this charge. The initial data also showed that 79% of participants may have driven a car while they were above the legal limit to do so, and 92% indicated that they had been a passenger in a vehicle where the driver was operating above the legal limit.
The study recorded 4,823 BAC readings from participants, with BAC readings averaging 0.087% – an average reading above the legal limit for driving. However, as noted above the data collected at the end of the survey demonstrated some positive findings. 84% of participants agreed that owning a personal Breathalyzer compatible with their smartphone lowers their risk of receiving a DUI or DWAI. This may potentially indicate that participants using the devices were more aware of the effect that only one or two drinks can have on their ability to drive because they were confronted with actual data on their phones that showed whether or not they were under the legal limit to drive a car. Another positive result indicated at the end of the survey that may also reflect this was that only 12% of participants indicated they may have driven a vehicle while above the legal limit to do so. This shows a sharp decline from the initial 79% that indicated this when the study began.
Potential Impact on DUIs and DWAIs
This is one of the first studies of its kind, and more research will need to be done to gauge the effectiveness of these devices on a larger scale. It will also be important for future studies to take into account incidents of participants receiving DUI or DWAI charges especially when conducted on a larger scale. However, this study’s results are promising and indicate that these types of programs may indeed provide safer roads by helping to keep people aware of whether or not they are above the legal limit to drive. While the results are encouraging, they also indicate that many people are unaware of DWAIs and may still mistakenly believe that they are within the legal limit to drive after drinking. If you are facing charges related to a DUI or DWAI, it is important to enlist the help of a criminal defense attorney that has experience handling these types of charges in Colorado. Contact the criminal defense team at the Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation to discuss DUI or DWAI charges and find out what options are available to you for your defense against such charges.