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December 2015 - Robert Littlefield Buford III, Attorney at Law

Apps to Help Avoid a DWI

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Lowering Blood-Alcohol Limit Decrease DWIs?

Smartphone apps perform all sorts of useful functions in our daily lives. One use you may not have considered is helping avoid a driving while intoxicated charge. A recent report highlighted a number of smartphone apps available now or under development that help users determine if they are at risk of driving drunk. Some of these apps have actually been developed by state governments in an effort to prevent DWIs before they can even happen.

Maryland Releases ENDUI

Last October, Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration released an app for both Android and iOS-based smartphones called ENDUI. The app is designed to help drivers get home safely if they have been out drinking. According to the Maryland State Police, the ENDUI app allows users to create a “designated driver list” of family and friends “who can be contacted quickly in the event that someone has had too much to drink”; a locator function to find the nearest taxi or public transit service; and a tool to estimate a person’s blood-alcohol content.
It should be noted many apps provide information on estimating a person’s blood-alcohol level. It is important note there are many variables to consider when determining your individual blood-alcohol level, including the type of drinks you consume and how much you weigh. In other words, you cannot rely on general information from an app as a legal defense should you be arrested for DWI.

Portable Breathalyzers

Other smartphone apps provide more than just information on general intoxication levels or how to hail a cab. They help assess just how much you have had to drink. A company called Breathometer produces devices that can be used in conjunction with your Android or iOS phone to test your blood-alcohol level. Breathometer currently offers two portable breathalyzers, one that plugs into your phone’s headphone jack, while another model communicates with your phone via Bluetooth.
A competing firm, Alcohoot, sells what it claims is “world’s first law enforcement grade smartphone breathalyzer.” Like the Breathometer, Alcohoot’s device plugs into your smartphone’s headphone jack. The developers say their accompanying “data analytics” app can “use algorithms to provide recommendations based on your drinking trends.”

Need Help Fighting a DWI Charge?

These apps may prove to be useful tools in helping to avoid a drunk driving arrest. But if you still find yourself charged with driving while intoxicated, do not rely on a smartphone app. Call a qualified Austin DWI lawyer. The lawyers at The Law Office Of Robert L. Buford can assist you in this and many other areas of criminal defense.

Will Lowering the Blood-Alcohol Limit Decrease DWIs?

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Lowering Blood-Alcohol Limit Decrease DWIs?

Driving while intoxicated means operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol level above a specified legal limit. In Texas, that limit is .08 percent. This is actually the limit nationwide as the result of a 2000 federal law which threatened to withhold highway funds from states if they did not adopt the .08 limit. Previously, most states had a higher limit of .10 percent.

Of course, some regulators believe even .08 did not go far enough. In 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended states lower their blood-alcohol limit to .05. The NTSB claimed “scientific evidence shows that impairment begins with the first drink, and any alcohol consumption associated with driving reduces safety.” The NTSB also cited the examples of Europe and Australia, where it associated a .05 limit with a reduction in fatal car accidents in those jurisdictions.

Will Texas Adopt a .05 Limit?

As of this writing, no state, including Texas, has taken the NTSB’s advice and reduced the DWI limit from .08 to .05 percent. Indeed, many anti-drunk driving advocates have questioned the wisdom of the NTSB’s recommendation. Candace Lightner, the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), told U.S. News & World Report a .05 limit was not a “practical long-term solution” because it “won’t be enforced and will be a waste of time.” Lightner noted local prosecutors would be reluctant to prosecute DWI violators at .05 because most drivers at that limit would pass a field sobriety test.

Similarly, Justin Peters of Slate suggested it might be more cost-effective to focus on providing incentives for drivers to call a taxi after drinking rather than creating more DWI offenders. “[I]t wouldn’t take much to convince towns and cities to excuse parking tickets for drunk people who take cabs home,” Peters cited as just one example. He noted Washington, D.C., had a successful free cab ride program which may have contributed to the area’s low DWI fatality rate.

Do Not Fight a DWI Charge On Your Own

It is important to understand even at .08 percent, you may be legally intoxicated without realizing it. For instance, a woman weighing 120 pounds can exceed the .08 limit if she has three beers over the course of one hour. If Texas ever chose to adopt the stricter .05 limit, then a single beer would likely render the same woman a drunk driver.

If you or a family member is facing a drunk driving charge, it is imperative you seek legal advice from an experienced Austin DWI lawyer. Do not attempt to fight such charges on your own. Contact the lawyers at The Law Office Of Robert L. Buford today if you need to speak with someone right away.