North Carolina DWI (driving while impaired) laws are some of the strictest in the nation, and they can lead to harsh penalties and consequences such as jail time, fines, license suspension and increased insurance rates. One way a person can be charged with impaired driving is if they have a blood alcohol level of at least 0.08%. By law, motorists 21 years of age and older can consume alcohol in moderation before getting behind the wheel. The problem is that it’s difficult to tell when someone has had too much to drink.

Pinpointing exactly how much alcohol is present in an individual’s system is becoming a growing demand in the United States. And in 2013, a 24-year-old North Carolina student created a solution for this issue by developing Alcoshoot, the first breathalyzer mobile app. Since then, many other companies have come up with their own devices—all claiming accurate measurements for making safe driving decisions. One of the most recent breathalyzers, the FLOOME, takes safety to the next level by helping users call for a ride home or find food nearby if they’ve had too much to drink. Because these new apps are compatible with iOS, Windows and Android smartphones, almost everyone has access to them.

Although breathalyzer mobile apps and devices sound promising, not all are consistently accurate. As an experiment, three residents from Goochland County, Virginia were breathalyzer tested in February using various mobile apps in addition to a professional breathalyzer used by the county sheriff’s department. Each local was given an hour and a half to drink and a twenty-minute waiting period before testing. The first resident (female) blew a .09 and a .097 using two different mobile applications and a .074 through the police department breathalyzer. The second and third residents (both male) produced similar numbers—higher BAC readings using the mobile apps and lower results with the sheriff department’s breathalyzer. Despite the fact that the breathalyzer apps read higher BACs, which may seem like a safety feature to catch users before drinking too much, there’s enough difference between the results to cause concern.

Regardless of safety intentions and app companies claiming accuracy, using personal breathalyzers to make decisions after consuming alcohol is not recommended. No matter how much alcohol is consumed in one sitting, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and take a cab home instead.

If you’ve been charged with a DWI, whether you relied on a personal breathalyzer or not, you need the best legal representation that knows how to fight for your rights. Ludlum Law Firm’s DWI attorneys have over 35 years of combined experience defending clients. If you have a DWI matter in the Clinton, NC area, including Sampson and Duplin counties, get in touch with us today for a free consultation.