Portable Breathalyzers

By: Craig Gold
By: Craig Gold

John Crawley has been convicted of two DUIs within a 15-year period.

His second one led to a portable breathalyzer machine that’s hooked up to the ignition of his car. If he fails the test, his car won't start.

The device also requires Crawley to periodically retest while he's driving. If he fails, the car stops.

John himself says he's all for cracking down on drunk drivers, including himself, but not this way; Crawley claims the device malfunctions more than it works.

In one instance, the mouthpiece was too moist, forcing Crawley to start over.

That entails him reaching for a replacement mouthpiece, taking his eyes off the road. Crawley thinks these devises can be just as dangerous as the drunk drivers they're designed to catch.

He's trying to file a lawsuit to clarify their usage here in Florida.

Another problem is who's responsible for initiating the breathalyzer devises.A judge can order a DUI offender to install the equipment, but so can the State Division of Motor Vehicles. In at least one case, a judge overturned the DMV’s decision.

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Drunk Driving Statistics

  • Traffic fatalities in alcohol-related crashes rose by four percent from 1999 to 2000.

  • The 16,653 alcohol-related fatalities in 2000 (40 percent of total traffic fatalities for the year) represent a 25 percent reduction from the 22,084 alcohol-related fatalities reported in 1990 (50 percent of the total).

  • NHTSA estimates that alcohol was involved in 40 percent of fatal crashes and in eight percent of all crashes in 2000.

  • The 16,653 fatalities in alcohol-related crashes during 2000 represent an average of one alcohol-related fatality every 32 minutes.

  • An estimated 310,000 persons were injured in crashes where police reported that alcohol was present — an average of one person injured approximately every two minutes.

  • Approximately 1.5 million drivers were arrested in 1999 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.

  • This is an arrest rate of 1 for every 121 licensed drivers in the United States.

  • About 3 in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives.

  • In 2000, 31 percent of all traffic fatalities occurred in crashes in which at least one driver or nonoccupant had a BAC of 0.10 g/dl or greater. Sixty-nine percent of the 12,892 people killed in such crashes were themselves intoxicated. The remaining 31 percent were passengers, nonintoxicated drivers, or nonintoxicated nonoccupants.

  • In the state of Kentucky, there were 820 total fatalities in 2000. Of those, 203 had a BAC greater than or equal to 0.10, which accounted for 25 percent of the total fatalities.

Source: www.nhtsa.dot.gov (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Web site) contributed to this report.


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