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UHP: Personal breathalyzers are a start, but don’t depend on them

(Stock photo)

UHP HEADQUARTERS – As the BAC limit drops to .05 in Utah, many people will have to adjust how much they drink when they go out.  Lots of them may turn to personal breathalyzers, but, these are not necessarily foolproof.

Highway Patrol Sergeant Nick Street says people can start to be impaired a lot quicker than they realize.  So, he says people need to pay attention to when they start to feel “buzzed.”

“People are more likely to recognize their impairment at .05 than at .08,” Street says, adding that many people start to “feel fine” when they get to reach .08, even though they’re not.

Prices for these machines vary greatly, with some costing as little as $20, and others costing hundreds.  Street says the UHP doesn’t recommend any particular brand, but, he adds, ‘You get what you pay for.”

There are things people should know before they use one.  For instance, if they take a test right after they drink, the numbers will spike higher.

“Before you perform a breath test, you’ve got to let the mouth alcohol, from the alcohol you just consumed, dissipate.  The cells in your mouth will hold on to them for 15 minutes,” Street says.

Plus, things like hydration will have a big impact on your BAC.

He adds, “If you had a meal, that dissipation is going to change, versus on an empty stomach.”

Of course, their main message is that if you’re going to have any alcohol, don’t drive at all.

“With this change, we’re hoping to see a behavioral shift among Utah drinkers to where they feel, at that point, ‘Hey, this is where I need have a sober ride and arrange for a designated driver,’” Street says.