Why Breathalyzers Somehow Encourage Drinking and Driving

This idea came into mind yesterday as I was reading the basic description of a new phone-powered breathalyzer. While the generic idea seems like a nice one, these gadgets come with a downside, a rather dangerous side-effect. Since this may very well be only a false problem, I thought to share my ideas with you and discuss the matter.
First of all, I am somehow inclined to rant against all those who consider that drinking and driving is a minor issue. All that's needed is a quick glance over statistic figures and you'll see that the alcohol-impaired driving deaths account for almost a third of all crash deaths. Now, calling this a "minor problem" or a "non-issue" would be a little off and I strongly believe the majority supports my idea.

I will try to refrain from any sort of political correctness in this piece, as there is simply no need for this. In fact, it looks like the very wrong way to present critical situations laid the foundations for the problem we're now facing.

Regardless of how much some of us like beer or wine or any other alcoholic beverage, claiming that booze goes with driving is wrong, and I will back this up against any arguments and/or petty excuses. Those who need further irrefutable proof that alcohol impairs the ability to operate vehicles, machinery and the likes of this is either ill-willed or a troll, honestly.

Multiple studies, including the ones constantly carried out by CDC, show that booze is bad for driving. Physicians say it, too, while clinic and daily observations on the matter are more than conclusive. So, where's the problem, some might ask?

Leaving the danger of crashing and causing extensive damage, injuries or death aside, another very nasty problem arises: criminal offenses. Whereas some drivers may, of course, care not for the safety of the other road users, pedestrians or even occupants of the very vehicle in cause, facing criminal charges and the prospect of doing jail time is one thing most people in their right mind would rather avoid.

Since many countries and states have strict regulations for BAC (blood alcohol concentration) knowing whether you're up for a fine and some license suspension, or on the law-breaking side could really make a nice difference. And to get an idea on how intoxicated they are, people could, of course, use personal breathalyzers.

Their very existence or usage is not and could never cause a problem per se. Even more, such devices can be a source of amazing fun during parties, allowing everyone to measure how drunk they are, who reaches a certain level of intoxication and so on. I've even seen breathalyzer used at a bike rally to find the most drunk guy, in a very unhealthy type of contest!

Well, all these are all right, because they never associate drinking and driving. However, advertisement campaigns for the personal breathalyzer DO associate drinking and driving and THIS is a problem.

The way the ads are conceived is truly misleading and dangerous: they present drinking and driving as a normal combination of two things that are not to be mixed altogether, and by doing this they somehow legitimate this. Which is wrong, very wrong.

Back in the days when I was a driving student, everybody used to tell me that mixing booze and driving is wrong in so many ways and can lead to the nastiest consequences, death and jail included. everybody was urging the students to grow into responsible drivers and avoid drinking and driving, even though it was only about a beer or so.

Nowadays, it looks like such advice has been completely abandoned, and instead of “don't drive to the bar/party if you know you're going to drink”, it all comes down to “Out with your pals? Use Breathometer to see who needs to sober up before driving - and who's good to go." (Breathometer ad).

I have nothing against the manufacturers of personal breathalyzers, but advertising them by making drinking and driving as a somewhat normal thing is wrong and the cynicism behind such a move is simply huge.

They are looking to manufacture and sell as many gadgets as possible, thus making a profit, and by all means, there is nothing wrong in doing business. On the other hand, doing business and advertising that DUI is simply OK as long as you know how tipsy you are, is really wrong.

There is yet one more side to this issue: such gadgets appeal more to the young drivers... the most prone of being easily influenced by media, and at the same time, the least capable of judging the matter of drinking and driving properly.

And unfortunately, they will have a hard time deciding not to mix the two, or even worse, when it's time to stop. The physiological thresholds when it comes to alcohol absorption are extremely easy to cross, and believe it or not, that half beer a youngster is not willing to leave on the table can usually make the difference... for the worse.

So in the end, that's the reason behind this small rant: instead of promoting the separation of those two equally pleasant occupations (driving and boozing), the personal breathalyzer manufacturers are shifting the problem. It's no longer about “why would anyone drive to the pub if he or she knows they're planning to get wasted,” but instead it's about “it's OK to drink and then drive, provided you're not too wasted. And just to find this out, here's some nice gadget to tell you how drunk you are. That would be $50, thank you!”

Just before stopping here, I must add that such breathalyzers do have a good use: that they come in extremely handy for checking whether one is able (and legally allowed) to drive a car the next day. As for other reasons (save for fun), this is one gadget any driver with a conscience doesn't really need. Just like so many other things in life.

And you should definitely check this short story, comments and all.
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