Archive for the ‘ Breathalyzer News ’ Category

Amazing 2-in-1 Tech Products

As consumers, we’re drawn to products that can pull double duty: shampoo and conditioner, VCR and DVD player, blender and food processor—you name it. Why do we love them so? For starters, they offer two things for the price of one, which means double the savings (and double the fun!). They take up less space in our homes. Sometimes they even get the job done faster.

Companies are continuing to develop combo products in the hopes of making our lives easier. The following tech products we came across do just that—but in ways we never thought were possible. A keyboard with a built-in scanner, a home theater system that doubles as a TV stand, and an MP3 player that functions as a breathalyzer are just some of the coolest products on double duty.

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Personal alcohol breathalyzers have become extremely popular over the past few years. But there is an ongoing hidden cost and aggravation associated with maintaining breathalyzer accuracy. Now the problem is solved with this state-of-the-art breathalyzer.

Nine months ago you went on-line and forked over a pretty good buck for a new breathalyzer. Now, less than a year later, when you test yourself it’s giving you wildly inaccurate readings.

Guess what. When you bought your new breathalyzer no one told you that you’d have to send it back to the manufacturer every 6 to 12 months to have it re-calibrated. But that’s the case with almost every breathalyzer on the market.

All breathalyzers have a sensor module (the part of the breathalyzer that determines your blood-alcohol-content) that degrades over time. Eventually it becomes clogged with residue making it less and less accurate. In order to correct this problem you must ship almost all other breathalyzers back to the manufacturer.

That’s right, you have to pack it up and ship it back to them. Pay the shipping cost. Pay their breathalyzer re-calibration fee (usually between $20 and $40). And then wait till they ship it back to you. That’s cost and aggravation you can do without.

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Personal breathalyzers clear the air

It’s not often that you need to get drunk for a story.

But hey, how else are you going to test one of the personal breathalyzers that are part of a growing $20 million industry?

Over the past two years, several handheld devices have been introduced to the market and are being used as screening tools by parents to test their kids, employers to check workers using heavy equipment, high school personnel to test students at proms, football games and other functions, and by regular consumers to monitor their drinking.

They’re designed to measure the concentration of alcohol in the human breath, which indicates how much is in the bloodstream. Prices range from $10 for small keychain models to $250, although accuracy varies widely. Results are not admissible in court.

Most consumer models use a semiconductor sensor to detect alcohol, which is less sophisticated technology than what is used in professional devices used by police.

The personal breathalyzers, like the $79.99 BACtrack B70 by KHN Solutions Inc. of San Francisco that I tested, are more practical as screening devices. To get an accurate reading you need to wait 20 minutes after drinking, eating or smoking before blowing into the device. And the manual emphasizes that users not use the BACtrack as a tool to determine whether you should operate a motor vehicle or equipment or perform any other dangerous act.

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A Federal judge has refused to grant an injunction sought by three police unions to halt the post-shooting Breathalyzer tests for NYPD officers.

In his Sept. 30 decision, U.S. District Court Judge George B. Daniels also ruled that the unions’ case against the city could proceed. This lawsuit is the consolidation of three complaints filed by Detectives Endowment Association President Michael J. Palladino, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch, and Captains Endowment Association President Roy T. Richter, challenging an NYPD policy implemented last year in response to the Sean Bell shooting. In that case, the Detective who touched off the fatal confrontation admitted that as part of his undercover role he had a couple of drinks at the nightclub outside which the shooting took place.

Came Up Smelling Like Roses

In July, Det. Ivan Davison was the first officer to fail a sobriety test that became standard for all cops who fired their weapons and hit somebody. Detective Davison registered 0.09 — a hair over the legal limit of 0.08 — when he was tested following the shooting of an armed man who fired first at him. The Detective was immediately disciplined by the NYPD, but several days later — after both the media and Mayor Bloomberg praised his actions — Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly lauded him as a hero.

The three unions have challenged the sobriety test in lawsuits and with the Office of Collective Bargaining, because, they assert, the Breathalyzer constitutes an unreasonable search without suspicion. The unions also contend that previous officers were subjected to “embarrassment” and felt “sequestered,” even though no criminal charges were filed against them.

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Nova Scotia is launching a program to fight drunk driving by requiring addiction counselling and the purchase of an expensive breathalyzer device.

The province unveiled its breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BIID) program Tuesday, saying it will make communities safer by keeping impaired drivers off the road.

The program is for people who have lost their driver’s licence because of an alcohol-related conviction or have an alcohol-related incident on their driving record.

Participants will have to pay between $1,700 and $2,000 for the first year to have a breathalyzer device installed and maintained in their vehicles.

Before starting the vehicle, the driver has to blow into the small, hand-held device. The car won’t start if the driver’s blood alcohol level is above a preset limit.

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Pinal County sheriff’s officials say they are now keeping quality assurance tests on a breathalyzer machine that helps prosecute drunken driving cases in northeastern Pinal County.

Records issues spur dismissal of Pinal DUI cases

Sheriff officials announced an internal audit into a problem with missing breathalyzer records on July 29.

A Tribune story published that day reported that county prosecutors were forced to drop at least four recent drunken driving cases in the Apache Junction Justice Court because the records for the Intoxilyzer 8000, the breathalyzer used at the sheriff’s Santan station, were not available.

Sheriff’s spokesman Mike Minter said the quality tests now are the responsibility of Cpl. Paul Compton.

Deputy Cardest James was pulled from the duty after it was discovered that the Intoxilyzer records were missing from April 2007 to June 2008, a period of 14 months.

“The internal investigation is still on-going. Should finish it in the next few weeks,” wrote Lt. Scott Elliott in an e-mail Friday. Elliott serves in the patrol support division.

It’s unclear if many of the dismissed cases would have proceeded as far as they did in the court system if the prosecutor knew there were no records for the breathalyzer. But public records provided to the Tribune offer insight into the investigation, which began June 4.

Pinal County prosecutor Michael Larsen wrote June 5 to Richard Platt, chief criminal deputy for the Pinal County Attorney’s Office, that he was frustrated in tracking down the records. Larsen disputed James’ assertion that he didn’t know Larsen needed records for 2008.

“I have e-mailed him once every two weeks for the past three months requesting the 2008 materials and he still hasn’t given me anything,” Larsen wrote. “His comment that he did not know that I still needed the 2008 documentation is inaccurate. There is no way he did not know I still needed all the 2008 documentation.”

A day earlier, Larsen wrote to Platt in an e-mail that James had changed his story since Larsen originally asked for the documents in January, according to county e-mails.

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A bold new plan by Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo could have officers packing hypodermic needles.  Now it’s pitting a civil rights group against him.

Acevedo wants trained officers to draw blood from suspected drunk drivers who refuse a breathalyzer test. 

“How many people have to die before we realize that we have to be aggressive?  We need to hold people accountable and we need to stop the bloodshed on our highways,” said Acevedo.  “If you’re going to drink and drive, we want to make sure we give our officers the tools to hold that suspect accountable.”

Acevedo wants to train DWI officers to draw blood from suspected drunk drivers who refuse a breathalyzer. 

It’s a proposal similar to what already exists in Williamson County, the difference being a nurse draws the blood in Williamson County, not the police officer. 

“Some folk think we’re going to go on the side of the road and arrest somebody and whip out a needle.  That’s not how it works,” said Acevedo.

Acevedo says trained DWI officers would take the suspect to a secure, clean place, get a search warrant, and only then, draw your blood.

But the Texas Civil Rights Project denounces the chief’s plan, saying it violates civil liberties.

“You’re basically violating somebody’s constitutional rights by going into their body and taking blood,” said Jim Harrington, Director of the Texas Civil Rights Project.  “People who haven’t been to nursing school (or) medical school could cause a lot of problems to the person they’re sticking the needle in to.”

Acevedo says the program would be paid for with a federal grant.  He hopes to have it in place before the end of the year.

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Man gets two DWI charges in 14 hours

A Fayetteville man was charged with driving while impaired last week — twice about 14 hours apart, police say.

Anthony Mangum, 34, of Lake Avenue, was stopped by Fayetteville police at 11:55 p.m. June 25 after Mangum drove his 1993 Mitsubishi onto the curb of Swain Street, near Skibo Road, said Sgt. John Somerindyke.

A breathalyzer test showed his blood-alcohol level was .23 percent. The state’s threshold for being impaired is .08 percent.

Mangum was charged with DWI, and his license was revoked for 30 days, Somerindyke said. Mangum was released after posting a $1,000 bail.

About 2 p.m. Thursday, police received a report about a reckless driver on Santa Fe Drive near the All America Freeway, Somerindyke said.

The driver was Mangum, operating his Mitsubishi, Somerindyke said.

Officers tried to stop the car, but Mangum, not realizing that police were behind him, kept driving, nearly hitting another car head-on, Somerindyke said.

Mangum was stopped at 2:11p.m., Somerindyke said, and officers found an open pint of gin in the car.

He was given a breathalyzer test — again — and registered a blood-alcohol level of .27 percent, Somerindyke said.

Mangum also was driving on a revoked license, Somerindyke said, so police seized his vehicle in accordance with state law.

Mangum was released from the second charge after posting a $500 bail.

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A Car That Combats Drunk Driving

Japanese carmaker Nissan is developing a new car with breathalyzer-like detection systems to help stop drinking and driving.

Nissan’s alcohol-detection sensors check odor, sweat and driver alertness to keep the alcohol-impaired off the road.

Odor sensors on the driver and passenger seats read alcohol levels, issuing a voice alert on the navigation system and locking up the ignition if needed.

Another high-sensitivity alcohol sensor in the gear shift knob measures perspiration on the driver’s palm when trying to start the car.

Nissan technology chief Kazuhiro Doi says the car is still in development, but a facial monitoring system will also keep an eye on who’s behind the wheel.

[Kazuhiro Doi, General Manager Technology, Nissan Motors]:

“We’ve placed odor-detectors in the car and sweat-sensor on the gear shift, but in addition to these, for example if the gear shift sensor was bypassed by a passenger using it instead of the driver, the facial recognition system would act as a back up.”

A mounted camera monitors driver alertness by an eye scan, responding with bells and a voice message if it’s time to pull over and have a rest.

The driver’s seatbelt will also tighten to gain immediate attention, while an on-road failsafe is a sensor that monitors if a car is wobbling out of its lane.

Warnings and lockdowns come in English as well as Japanese.

Nissan intends to drive this technology to global markets in the next few years, looking to reduce the number of fatalities in its automobiles by half by 2015.

This year’s proms featured pat-downs and Breathalyzers, so as our kids were getting ready for their respective evenings, I gave them some personal prom history.

Surprisingly, I did not get a rolling of the eyes or an “Oh, Dad.” I actually got questions when I was finished, a sure sign that someone is listening.

Unless, of course, the question is, “Did you say something?”

When I graduated from high school in 1973, proms were just coming back in vogue, after being avoided for many years because they were not cool. That uncool attitude, which held that proms were old-fashioned and sexist, was a leftover from the ’60s.

Going to the prom was not an easy decision. Because my girlfriend attended a different high school, I was obligated to attend two if I went at all. That meant twice as many expenses.

Fortunately, in 1973 no one thought of taking a limousine to proms, and I did not incur that expense twice. Oh, I suppose there were one or two who wanted the deluxe ride, but for most of us, the freedom of driving ourselves to and from the event was more important than showing up in a land yacht.

Today, limos are routine.

My high school prom was at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, which is where my daughter’s high school held hers.

Kaitlyn has been attending the Orange County High School of the Arts (OCHSA) in Santa Ana since the eighth grade.

Among the school’s many unique characteristics is the fact that the overwhelming majority of the students are girls. I don’t have any statistics, but based on my visits, I’d say the majority is about 75%.

As you can imagine, it makes it hard for girls to get dates with the boys in school, so many girls end up going to the prom with female friends.

At the OCHSA prom, the boys were patted down, presumably to check for drugs, alcohol and weapons.

My son attended the Estancia High School prom as a sophomore last Saturday night. The event was held at Crevier Classics in Santa Ana, and many kids there were given Breathalyzer tests as they arrived.

The location of this prom was interesting. According to Klaus Kindor, Crevier sales manager, the facility started out 16 months ago as a membership-only garage for fine cars but evolved into a venue for parties.

“My understanding is that one of our members wanted to have a birthday party here and that persuaded us to hold more events, and it has become a very successful venue here in Orange County,” said Kindor.

During the prom, kids were allowed to stroll among the cars, with a few exceptions.

“Most of the cars that are here do not belong to us, they belong to our members, so some of the cars were behind ropes,” said Kindor.

It should be noted the ropes were not set up only for the high school guests. Kindor assured me they are there for adult events as well.

There is nothing wrong with roping off cars only for high schoolers, but I have to smile when I realize that an adult who has been drinking and did not have the benefit of a Breathalyzer was more likely to have an accident around the cars than one of the teens last weekend.

Kindor told me he believes this prom may have been the first one they have hosted.

So I asked if, based on the experience, Crevier would host another prom.

“We think so. The event went off very well, and the kids were really well-behaved.”

Except for pat-downs, Breathalyzer and the proliferation of limousines, proms have not changed much over the years. But it’s all happening so quickly now.

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