Daily Archives: February 2, 2005

New Weapon Unveiled in War Against Drunk Driving

I've written a number of times about the inaccuracy and unreliability of breathalyzers (see, for example, "Breathalyzers — and Why They Don't Work", "Why Breathalyzers Don't Measure Alcohol", "Breathalyzers: Why Aren't They Warranted to Measure Alcohol?"). For those of you who still believe that these machines are accurate, consider the following news article:

MINNEAPOLIS (January 31, 2005) – Before he went to law school, Brian Eddy worked at a firm that often handled drunken-driving cases. He noticed that many of the clients snagged for driving under the influence made the same doleful observation: "I had no idea I was that drunk."It occurred to Eddy that there must be a way to quickly screen one's blood-alcohol level after a few drinks. He bounced the idea off a childhood friend, and the two ponied up $100 from their savings accounts to start a business. Before he knew it, Eddy was not only a budding lawyer but a budding entrepreneur.Fast-forward six years: Eddy is now the chief executive of Q3 Innovations, an Eagan, Minn., company that has successfully marketed the Alcohawk ABI digital breath alcohol screener to retailers Sharper Image and Target. He has even bigger retailers on his radar, including Best Buy, Circuit City and Radio Shack….

Eddy points out that….the U.S. Department of Transportation has cleared the device for use by law enforcement professionals, a market Q3 Innovations has yet to aggressively tap. [Emphasis added]"The reason people are skeptical is because there is a lot of junk on the market," Eddy said of the competition. "It's a perception that we have to overcome."

How accurate do you think this "budding" lawyer-entrepreneur's product is? Would you want to face arrest and prosecution for DUI because of its reading? And just how demanding could the Department of Transportation's standards be?

Note: Most states rely upon the U.S. Department of Transportation's list of approved breath testing instruments as the standard for admissibility as evidence in court. Young Brian Eddy's pocket-sized gizmo, available at any Target store, is legally good enough to sustain a criminal conviction for drunk driving.

As I commented in an earlier post, it's "close enough for government work".

(Thanks to Kathleen N. Carey of Phoenix, Arizona)