Just ahead: Memorial Day and heightened drunk driving crash risks

by | May 11, 2021 | Motor vehicle accidents

The unofficial start to another Shreveport summer is nearly upon us. The 2021 calendar is favorable, too: Memorial Day is on Monday this year, which means we’re in for a three-day weekend filled with family, friends, food and fun.

Unfortunately, a long, holiday weekend also means that the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle crash caused by a drunk driver is significantly higher than normal.

Most dangerous holidays

Personal finance website moneygeek.com estimates that the risk of a fatal drunk-driving crash on Memorial Day is 54 percent higher than average, making the coming holiday the fifth most dangerous of the year, following:

  • New Year’s: 129 percent higher than average
  • July 4th: 100 percent higher
  • Thanksgiving: 77 percent higher
  • Labor Day: 61 percent higher

Some people who expect to be partying on those occasions – and others throughout the year – have taken to checking their BAC (blood alcohol concentration) with increasingly popular portable breathalyzers that connect to their phones.

The devices purport to give an accurate reading of how much alcohol you have in your system. In Louisiana, it’s illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 percent or higher.

Inaccurate BAC readings

A recent study shows that six popular phone-paired breathalyzers – Alcohoot, BACtrack Mobile Pro, BACtrack Vio, Drinkmate, Evoc and Floome – often fail to give users accurate BAC readings.

Researchers gave a group of 20 moderate drinkers three doses of vodka in a 70-minute period. The goal was to get their BAC around .10 percent – over the legal limit in all 50 states.

Participants’ BAC levels were measured by each device, as well as by the police-grade Intoxilyzer 240 after each round. After the third, blood was drawn to get the most accurate reading.

Underestimating inebriation

Researchers found that three devices (Floome, Drinkmate and Evoc) consistently underestimated BAC levels. Evoc and Drinkmate failed to detect when BAC exceeded the legal limit 50 percent of the time, compared to the Intoxilyzer 240.

BACtrack Mobile Pro gave readings that were consistently higher than those by the police-grade Intoxilyzer.

The most accurate portable devices were the BACtrack Vio and Alcohoot.

Commendable motives

While the sentiments of those who buy these devices are laudable – they want to avoid drunk driving arrests and drunk driving wrecks – the data shows that many portable devices give inaccurate readings that might give impaired drivers a false sense of confidence about getting behind the wheel.

The only foolproof way for them to avoid being arrested and avoid causing a crash while impaired is to never drive after consuming alcohol. That goes for this coming Memorial Day and every other day.

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