New app to prevent drunk driving, comes with warning

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Thanksgiving is the second worst holiday for deadly drunk driving, but a Bay Area company has a device that could curb the problem.

You can add "breathalyzer" to the list of functions for your smartphone. With your phone and a small $100 gadget, you can figure out if you're sober enough to drive. But while even police like the idea, the device comes with a serious warning.

Danger peaks on Central Valley roads during the holidays, and the California Highway Patrol knows it.

"A higher volume of people want to celebrate and enjoy and we can't fault for that," said CHP Capt. Dave Paris. "But the thing is, we have to use common sense."

Common sense to police is to staff DUI checkpoints and try to weed out drunk drivers. Common sense to the rest of us is to avoid driving drunk. And a Burlingame company has built a tool to help.

The "Breeze" is small enough to fit in your pocket, and with one breath and a wireless connection to your phone, it can warn you not to drive.

"When you're out with your friends, prior to having another drink -- at least you know in advance," said Breathometer Marketing Vice President Brian Sturdivant.

Breathometer pitched the product on ABC's "Shark Tank" and got a big investment.

But Mothers Against Drunk Driving hasn't endorsed it, and even though CHP officers say it may be a good investment, they have serious concerns.

For starters, a reading below .08 could give people a false sense of security.

"[The device is] not accurate," Capt. Paris said. "It's not certified by the Department of Justice, but it gives an individual the opportunity to see what their blood-alcohol level is."

A recent drink could still be driving your BAC up above the legal limit, and some people are impaired even before .08. So the makers of Breeze built in a little cushion.

"Once you've hit a .05 or higher, we actually show 'Get home safe,'" Sturdivant said.

The app will let you know how much longer until you're fully sober, and with one touch, it'll link you to Uber or a cab company to get you a safe ride. You can buy the Breeze at Best Buy or online.

Action News talked to some DUI defense attorneys about the device, though, and they said its results could never be used in court. One of them called it nothing more than a party novelty.

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