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More drivers using personal breathalyzers

As law enforcement officers step up their efforts to enforce drunken driving laws, motorists are at significant risk of being pulled over. And some are turning to new methods to avoid that DWI arrest.

For example, some are buying breathalyzers of their own to measure their BAC before getting behind the wheel. The devices retail for anywhere from $3 to $300. In 2011, sales of personal breathalyzers reached $284.6 million.

The reliability of personal breathalyzers also varies significantly. An unreliable device can mean someone who has had too much to drunk may register with a lower BAC. Similarly, it may keep a capable driver from driving home.

Unfortunately, personal breathalyzers do not guarantee that you will not be stopped, or even arrested, for drunken driving. The number on the police officer's breathalyzer is the one that may be used as evidence in any criminal proceedings. Your own breathalyzer should be used only as a guide.

A BAC reading is only part of the picture in a DWI case. Prosecutors must prove impairment, which they may be able to do without a breathalyzer reading. Field sobriety tests, testimony, blood tests and other evidence may be used to prove impairment.

If you have been pulled over on suspicion of impaired driving or are facing criminal charges, consider speaking with a criminal defense attorney with experienced in drunken driving defense. He or she can help you protect your rights and defend against any charges, working within the justice system to pursue to best possible outcome in your case.

Source: The Street, "Your Own Personal Breathalyzer," Jan. 17, 2013

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