As an attorney that has been practicing DWI defense for over 17 years, I’ve given people a lot of great advice when it comes to the defense of DWI related charges. However, the best advice is; if you are going to drink alcohol when you are out with friends for an evening, don’t drive a motor vehicle. Make earlier arrangements for a designated driver.
Nevertheless, there are those that won’t heed the warning and may even rely on various devices to measure their own blood alcohol concentration. Smartphone software apps are becoming very popular among motorists throughout the entire country. Since states have tightened up their DUI and DWI laws and penalties, several companies have developed applications that enable people to track their blood alcohol content levels, or check whether they still appear sober before getting behind the wheel. App creators maintain that their goal is to get drivers to think twice about driving after consuming alcohol.
Below are 3 of the most popular smartphone DWI/DUI apps out in the market today:
Most individuals tend to insist that they are still able to drive, even when they are clearly intoxicated. In situations such as these, friends are often faced with the need to show proof that certain persons are unfit to drive, and that they need to ride a taxi or have someone else take them home.
Instead of analyzing a driver’s breath to determine his or her blood alcohol content level, the BreathalEyes iPhone app detects the involuntary movement of the eyes. The concept of this app is similar to testing a driver’s Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus during field sobriety tests conducted by police officers. HGN is when a person’s eye jerks and twitches on it’s own as the iris reaches an almost 45-degree angle while the subject’s head remains forward.
BreathalEyes uses an iPhone camera to record a driver’s HGN or eye movement. One reason for the eyes’ involuntary movement is alcohol consumption. For this reason, police officers have been conducting variations of a pen test on potentially drunk drivers as part of field sobriety tests.
Once iPhone owners have downloaded the app, they can test anyone for HGN at any time. The developers of this app say that the iPhone owner or the individual conducting the HGN testing should be sober or should at least be able to hold the phone steady during the test. Also, good lighting conditions are required.
Intoxicheck, created by Innocorp, Ltd., is an iPhone app that aims to help people determine how impaired they might be in terms of their memory, dexterity, reaction time and judgment. This app is a self-administered series of six challenges to help would-be drivers obtain an estimate of their intoxication levels.
Intoxicheck first establishes an unimpaired baseline by allowing users to perform challenges on the phone while sober. After consuming alcohol, individuals have to perform the same series of challenges, and the app assesses how impaired the users are by comparing the results of the challenges taken before and after drinking. The phone then displays the users’ level of intoxication on the screen, such as “you are very impaired.” With this iPhone DWI app, counting drinks and guessing the alcohol content of each drink are not necessary.
DrinkTracker keeps track of an individual’s blood alcohol content through an iPhone or iPod Touch, using a personal breathalyzer simulator and BAC calculator app. One can edit the phone’s drink list with just a tap on the screen, keeping a record of the drinks that he or she consumes for the night. The app only requires a one-time setup of the user’s personal profile, including age, gender, weight and height.
As one starts to drink, the individual simply selects his or her profile. The DrinkTracker compares the user’s metabolic rate and alcohol intake, and then provides him or her an update of BAC levels every minute. It’s also possible to set a target BAC, and then the app displays a countdown timer of the approximate time the target BAC will be reached.
A new version of the app has been released in which a new GPS-based feature named “Outta Here!” has been added. The latest feature uses Google Maps to allow a user to obtain directions for his or her next destination, find a taxi, or email other contacts to pick up him or her up.
Reliability of DWI/DUI Prevention Smartphone Apps
There are many of these types of smartphone apps available, all of which are downloadable for free or for a small fee. It’s worthy to note that these smartphone applications are not perfect. While the sellers of these so-called DWI prevention applications promote them as a way to prevent drinking and driving, they come with a legal disclaimer which makes it very clear to users that they are intended only for “entertainment purposes.” The disclaimer also points out that sellers and developers should not be held legally responsible for the consequences of the results of these applications.
These smartphone DWI prevention apps intend to provide drivers with useful tools to ensure safe driving. However, users should keep in mind that these applications are not guaranteed to prevent users from being arrested for DWI, as these apps can provide a false sense of security for drivers. Prosecutors and law enforcement officers around the country have increased their crackdown on drunk diving. Minnesotans may mistakenly believe that they are still fit to drive because these apps tell them so, and may get behind the wheel impaired. Mistakes such as these may result in a DWI charge and then the need to hire a DWI lawyer to defend you.