Personal breathalyzers, safe or not?

By Krystal Allan – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It's unlikely you'll find personal breathalyzers on people's shopping lists when they head to their local pharmacy, but it could show up on a few lists this holiday weekend.

"I knew they existed, but I didn't know they were that available," says Jim Hardin of Biloxi.

Sergeant Michael Brumley says he can't say whether portable breathalyzers do what they claim. But he says those who use them to see how intoxicated they are should keep this in mind.

"Don't just rely on the numbers. I think that's one of the misconceptions people might have. Whether it's .01 or .1, you should take into consideration other factors," says Brumley.

Due to factors like a person's size or tolerance level, Brumley says a number doesn't always indicated just how intoxicated a person might be.

The Biloxi Police Department uses the Intoxilyzer 8000 which takes a couple of readings to get a more accurate blood alcohol average. The device is also approved by the state's Commission of Public Safety.

Even so, Brumley says they still use other methods like standard field sobriety tests to see just how impaired a driver might be.

As for drivers, some say there are benefits as well as drawbacks to using the personal breathalyzers.

"It's a good idea. It wouldn't hurt them," says Frank Sabbatini of Biloxi.

"It's just another avenue to look at to say, hey am I getting carried away," says Hardin. "However, I would not use it as the only guide."

As for police, they still say the safest bet is to rely on someone else if you plan on going out to drink.

"Arrange for a designated driver. It's a lot cheaper to call a taxi than it is to bond out."

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