The BACtrack Select S50 is a sleek-looking device that’s fairly new to the market.

Here’s the blurb from the manufacturer:

The BACtrack® Select S50 Breathalyzer is the latest addition to the BACtrack Breathalyzer Series. Launched in late 2008, the BACtrack Select S50 combines trusted sensor technology with a simple and easy-to-use design. Simply blow through the replaceable mouthpiece and an estimate of BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) is displayed in seconds.

The S50 is quick, simple, accurate, and perfect for testing one’s own BAC level or checking others. It can be used in a wide variety of settings including law enforcement screening, hospital/clinical test applications, and for personal use.

Key Features

Three digit display shows BAC test results in easily recognizable format from 0.00 to 0.40 %BAC
Proprietary FlowCheck™ feature ensures that a deep lung air sample is achieved on every breath sample
Individually wrapped mouthpieces suitable for personal and professional use
Elegant ruby-red LED; Great for low light situations
Full One-Year Warranty and trusted BACtrack brand

BACtrack Select S50 Kit Includes

S50 Breathalyzer
Soft Carrying Pouch
6 Mouthpieces
2 AA Batteries
User Guide
One Year Warranty

Hall of Famer and 11-time NBA All-Star Charles Barkley will pay a fine and serve ten days in jail after pleading guilty to driving while impaired. The sentence will be reduced to five days if he completes a class in alcohol counseling.

Scottsdale, Arizona police stopped Barkley on December 31, 2008 because he ran a stop sign. The police report supposedly indicated that he was in a hurry to have oral sex. Barkley’s subsequent refusal to take a Breathalyzer and performance during the field sobriety check provided sufficient cause for arrest. Police found a handgun in his impounded vehicle. Barkley voluntarily submitted to a blood alcohol test and was formally charged with driving while impaired.

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Q: Is it possible to beat a Breathalyzer by sucking on a penny?

A: No, State Patrol trooper Keith Trowbridge said.

Other techniques to bust the Breathalyzer, such as sucking a battery and eating loads of protein, also are urban legends, authorities say.

Created in 1954, Breathalyzers estimate blood-alcohol content by measuring the amount of alcohol in a person’s breath.

A common version of the penny rumor works on the premise that the copper mixes with alcohol in the drunken drivers’ mouth and causes the Breathalyzer to malfunction, showing a ridiculously high reading.

Here’s the catch: Since 1982, United States pennies have been made with a zinc core. Only the plating – 2.5 percent of the penny – is copper.

Previously, pennies were made primarily with copper. But Trowbridge said the trick still doesn’t work with the old coins.

Before giving a drunken driver a Breathalyzer, troopers check the mouth to make sure there’s nothing that could skew the results. “Then,” Trowbridge said, “we start a 15- minute observation before administering the test.”

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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 sheriff’s now keeping breathalyzer tests

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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