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Don’t bet your future on a vending machine breath test at the bar

| May 4, 2021 | Drunk driving

Bars, restaurants and other hospitality establishments are always trying to find small services that they can charge customers for to increase and diversify their revenue streams.

They will add new menu items or drinks to profit off of trends. Vending machines in the bathroom might dispense cologne or hygiene products for those hoping to make a good first impression. They could also have a machine that claims to help you test for chemical impairment by performing a quick breath test for alcohol.

Verifying your blood alcohol concentration before you drive home seems like a smart move if you’ve had a few drinks. You obviously don’t want to get behind the wheel if you have had too much to drink. Unfortunately, those chemical testing units available to the public at bars probably aren’t as reliable as you would hope.

Even when operating perfectly, units for public consumption aren’t as accurate

The breath testing systems used by law enforcement agencies are advanced, complex pieces of machinery that typically require calibration, maintenance and training for those who administer the test. The devices installed at public hotspots simplify the technology to make it easy for someone who has had a few drinks to do the test themselves.

There is no way for a person paying for the test to know the record of maintenance and calibration for the device. Even if properly and carefully maintained, the pay-per-use breath test could tell you you’re fine to drive, only for police to reach a different conclusion when they perform a traffic stop.

The testing system will provide no protection if the test isn’t correct. If you feel concerned enough about your level of impairment to need to take a test, that may be a sign that you should find another way home.

Be ready to face the music

A driver overestimating the accuracy of a personal or public breath test is only one way that a failed breath test could lead to a drunk driving arrest. There’s also the risk of a test performed as part of a traffic stop to return inaccurate results and lead to an innocent driver facing impaired driving charges.