Personal breathalyzers may help users avoid repeat DUI offenses

In the state of Alabama, a first DUI conviction carries a maximum possible sentence of up to a year in prison, fines of up to $2,100, and a 90-day driver’s license suspension. Jail time is not mandatory; however, the fines and suspension are. But even without jail time, these penalties can compromise an ordinary person’s ability to perform everyday activities, such as driving to work or paying one’s expenses on time.

The penalties increase with repeat DUI offenders. With a second conviction, the fines increase to a maximum of $5,100, loss of license for one year, and mandatory jail time or community service.

After a third conviction within five years, no less than 60 days’ jail time becomes mandatory, fines can reach $10,000, and the license revocation period extends to 3 years.

A fourth DUI conviction in a 5-year period is a Class C felony. The penalties include up to 10 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, and a 5-year revocation of your driver’s license.

You should never drive drunk. In today’s economy, even a $2,500 fine for a first DUI offense can be crippling. But if you are convicted of DUI, the need to avoid further DUI arrests is that much greater.

Along with common-sense measures like using a designated driver, a personal breathalyzer may be of help. A number of breathalyzers are available on the market for civilian use, sold at a variety of price points and boasting a variety of features. However, there are a few features your breathalyzer must have:

1. FDA certification. The Food and Drug Administration is the federal agency responsible for regulating medical devices, and breathalyzers technically fall into that category. FDA certification means that your breathalyzer is “safe and effective” in operation. Avoid breathalyzers that don’t have it.

2. Extra mouthpieces. A good breathalyzer will have a mouthpiece that can be removed and washed, and extra mouthpieces will be included. Avoid breathalyzers with a fold-out mouthpiece, and breathalyzers that you simply blow on; these tend not to be as accurate. Always use a clean mouthpiece.

3. Clear instructions. Breathalyzers can’t produce accurate results if they are not used properly. Instructions should be simple and easy to understand.

4. Accuracy. Inaccurate breathalyzers can mislead users into believing their blood alcohol level is higher or lower than it really is. Try to find a breathalyzer with an accuracy range of +/- .02. More accurate models exist—the best seems to be +/- .005—but such a high degree of accuracy comes with a higher price tag, and may be more than you need.

For more information, read the drinkinganddriving.org report here.

With each DUI conviction, avoiding another becomes increasingly crucial. Speak with your DUI attorney for more information.