When people drive home after a night of drinking at a bar, they usually gauge their level of drunkenness with a quick glance at the mirror or a simple balancing test. Getting arrested for a DUI is rarely on their minds.
Some enterprising souls carry portable breathalyzer tests, but these are expensive, and sometimes difficult to use. Most drivers, however, simply guess whether they are sober enough to drive home.
In response to this information gap, a company in Buffalo, New York has designed a breathalyzer kiosk that could offer quick blood alcohol readings for bar patrons, allowing them to drive home with the knowledge that they and their passengers are safe.
According to the University of Buffalo Reporter, Ladybug Technologies recently announced the release of their new machine, the SipSmart Network, which allows bar customers to check their blood alcohol levels before they get into their cars.
In addition to the new kiosks, the company also sells a portable breathalyzer test, as well as a smart phone application that helps drinkers keep track of their BAC by entering each drink they consume and their body weight.
The kiosk, however, is the jewel of the company’s DUI-preventing fleet of machines. Sources indicate that the SipSmart Network machines contain a police-grade breathalyzer unit, which is covered by a “thin, sleek” kiosk.
The machines also use platinum fuel-cell technology, which allegedly helps the devise obtain accurate data about a user’s blood alcohol levels.
A pilot program aimed at studying the usefulness of the machines has started in a bar in New York, as well as a bar in Ontario. These pilot machines require a $5 payment from each customer for a reading.
Each $5 payment entitles a user to three different breath readings throughout the night. Before using the machine, though, customers must also purchase a 50-cent disposable mouthpiece from a nearby dispenser.
While the machine may offer a helpful resource for some potential drunk drivers, it still has its critics. First, some people note that the machine often takes up to 15 minutes to provide an accurate reading, which could dissuade some customers who are leaving a bar in a hurry.
In addition, critics are concerned that people will use the machine to drink until they are right at the legal limit, then immediately get into their cars.
Even though customers may technically be under the legal limit, they may still have reduced reaction times or poorer vision due to their drinking. In other words, just because a person passes a kiosk test, they aren’t necessarily in the best shape for driving.
Finally, customers that rely on the kiosk should also be warned that police won’t let them go simply because they passed a test a few minutes ago. If a police officer’s breathalyzer reaches a different measurement than the kiosk’s, the police will always rely on their own reading.
So, much like alcohol, the kiosk might be a fun tool, but it should be used wisely.