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Limitations of trying to determine BAC on your own

If you are like some people who drink, you may think you are probably safe to drive. That is, you are pretty sure, but you would like to have more concrete reassurance so you do not get charged with DUI. So, you turn to tools such as online BAC calculators or personal breath testing devices.

However, such tools can have their limitations and should not be used as a guarantee that you are sober enough to drive.

Online calculators

Many online BAC calculators ask for your gender, weight, number of drinks consumed and how long you have been drinking. Unfortunately, it is easy to give inaccurate answers for three of these categories. For example, some people may have a rough idea of their weight, but even that rough estimate could be 10 or 20 pounds off. Not a huge deal in the big picture but important when it comes to BAC. As for number of drinks consumed, it is easy to forget about a drink you had a few hours ago, and what about that drink you shared with a friend just now? You could be inputting that you had four drinks when it should be six. The length of time drinking can be problematic too, especially if you just started drinking. That is because a drink tends to affect your BAC most 30 to 45 minutes after you drank it. Length of time can also be misleading if most of your drinks were concentrated near the beginning or end of the time period.

Personal/portable breath test devices

Whether you use a smartphone app or a standalone personal breath test device, approach the results with caution. In general, the higher-quality devices cost the most money, so be sure to research what you are getting for your cash. Also, remember that your BAC tends to peak 30 to 45 minutes after you have a drink, so a 0.07 percent BAC now could turn into a 0.08 percent BAC in 30 minutes even if you drink nothing in the meantime.

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