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Why a personal breathalyzer device might be a good investment

It is often thought that New Year's Eve is among the busiest drinking days of the year. This may be true, but it seems that Americans don't necessarily dry up after New Year's. According to one study, 14 of the 15 busiest drinking days in the U.S. each year occur between December and March.

The data for this study came from an unlikely source: Aggregate data pulled from 300,000 personal breathalyzer tests around the country. Breath-alcohol testing devices, now widely available to consumers, are becoming cheaper, smaller and more accurate all the time. And in addition to helping researchers track alcohol consumption trends, they are also fulfilling a more immediate purpose: Helping drivers avoid getting behind the wheel if they've had too much to drink.

A high-quality testing device will likely cost more than $100. But compared to the thousands of dollars in fines that may accompany a DUI conviction, the price seems affordable.

It should be noted that owning a personal breathalyzer device will not offer legal protection if you ever get pulled over. It doesn't really matter if there is a discrepancy between your device and the device an officer uses, because the blood-alcohol concentration reading used in court will always be the one taken from the police-issued device.

Nonetheless, many who own personal breathalyzers say that the devices help them keep track of their intoxication level and make better decisions about when to avoid getting behind the wheel.

In a recent article in the Atlantic, the president of a personal breathalyzer company discussed why it makes sense to buy your own device. He said: "I thought it was crazy that you could get pulled over, get arrested and go to jail for a number you couldn't test yourself. It's like not having a speedometer in your car and then getting arrested for speeding."

If you're a social drinker concerned about your legal and physical safety, go online and do some research. A personal breathalyzer device might be one of the best purchases you'll make this year.

Source: The Atlantic, "Why Not Just Breathalyze Yourself?" Paula Vasan, Dec. 31, 2014

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