Since 1980, the year Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded by a mother after losing her young daughter by a serial drunk driver, the issue of drinking and driving has been solidly in the public consciousness. Studies have been performed, laws have been tightened, and rehabilitation programs developed.
Yet according to TXDOT, a person is still hurt or killed in a vehicular crash involving alcohol about every 20 minutes.
Under Texas law, you are legally defined as intoxicated while driving when your BAC registers as 0.08 or higher. However, regardless of actual BAC, law enforcement may consider a person intoxicated and driving under the influence if he or she demonstrates impairment in any way, and research shows the average drinker reaches this point through the consumption of two to three drinks in an hour.
Since the last way you want to end the night is by getting charged with DWI, it is up to you to take advantage of all the tools at your disposal. Today, there are a myriad of useful digital tools out there to advise and inform those who elect to drink.
How can you choose which ones are best to use, and at what point?
Just as you might drink one particular type of alcohol over another depending on the event, there are several types of apps appropriate for a given situation. We suggest thinking of them this way, and pairing them with other safety measures – just like you would when deciding which wine to pair with dinner, for instance.
There are three general types of app available if you’re already a drink or two in: those designed to analyze your breath; those which simply estimate your blood alcohol content; and those to track your consumption.
In this post, we’re going to look specifically at one of our favorites under each category, and offer a surefire safety pairing with each.
BACTrack Mobile Breathalyzer
In an experiment by the Rossen Reports with TODAY, the breathalyzer with readings most consistent to law enforcement testers was Alcohoot. However, we selected BACTrack for two reasons.
First, BACTrack has stated that they chose to err on the side of caution and user safety by over-estimating BACs, and we like that – you’re always better safe than sorry. The other reason is that the phone attachment happens to be a bit less expensive.
Pairing: Remember, readings are affected by a multitude of factors beyond the amount of alcohol you’ve consumed, causing mobile breathalyzers to produce results that are all over the map. A blow into a breathalyzer should be taken as nothing more than a quick check in on your condition. For this reason, we recommend pairing it with a walkable overnight reservation – weather it’s a hotel room or an Airbnb, make the evening last all night.
IntelliDrink BAC Calculator
Estimating your BAC is more than comparing your height and weight to the number of drinks you’ve had. ItelliDrink actually takes into account your age, gender, general tolerance, and current stomach content level, as well.
On-screen, you can watch your own BAC rise and fall, and set notifications for when you are above your limits if you’d like. This one has even been incorporated in university-level research projects for calibrating sophisticated data analysis in the area of alcohol sensors.
Pairing: Regardless of the accuracy of the data you input, an estimate will never equal a blood draw. These estimates are a great tool for pointing out what you probably already know – you’re intoxicated, so we think this app would pair perfectly with some time with a food menu. These days, you’d be hard-pressed to escape a row of food trucks after hours in any entertainment district. Wait it out – give yourself enough time to sober up and fill your belly with a heavy snack before you hit the road.
DrinkControl Drink Tracker
This app is the free version of the DrinkControl apps by the same developer, E-protect. It carries a 4.3 out of 5-star rating, and is designed to help users be more self-aware about the number of drinks they are consuming. Its primary purpose is to prevent binging.
What’s great about this app is that it not only monitors your consumption against national guidelines, but also can track what you’re spending on those drinks – in money and calories! Additionally, the application allows you to view (and download, if you want) a personal infographic detailing monthly, quarterly, and annual statistics on your drinking habits.
Pairing: Because the risk of forgetting to track your drinks after a certain point can leave you in the lurch at your most critical point, we recommend pairing this one with a rideshare. If you haven’t already designated a driver, this is the best option if and when you’ve stopped counting.
If there is an overall drawback to these technological tools, it’s that they are designed for the most part to be used when your judgement is already impaired. What these tools can provide, however, is a support system for avoiding a DWI by planning to drink responsibly before the first sip has ever been taken.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU, and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.