When you have the right app, your cell phone can be a handy tool in helping you avoid a DUI charge.
• Planning a night out with friends? There are apps that will help you estimate your blood alcohol content and provide a rough estimate of your BAC based on how many drinks you’ve had.
• Are you sure that you’ve consumed too much to get behind the wheel? Download a few apps that can help you snag a ride home so you don’t have to drive.
• Prefer to avoid DUI checkpoints? One popular traffic app that can help you identify where you’re likely to run into police blockades.
• Thinking about giving up drinking altogether? There are even apps that can help you remain sober if you’ve decided that you want to stay alcohol or drug-free.
Whether your preferred mobile device is the latest iPhone or the newest Android model, you’ll find both free and for-purchase apps that could work for you.
Keep an eye on your drinking
It’s tough to keep track of how much you’ve consumed over the course of a night when you’re with a group of friends and the alcohol is flowing freely. Should you be worried that you’ll be driving under the influence? Just how many beers can you have before you’ll have a problem? How many glasses of wine? What’s the impact of a few mixed drinks on your system?
AlcoDroid (available for Android and iPhone), an alcohol consumption tracker and drinks diary, is ready to assist you. Every time you buy a drink, you enter it into the app so that you have a record of what you’ve consumed. You can even set up a list of favorite drinks to make tracking faster.
The app offers a blood alcohol content feature that can help you estimate what your cumulative alcohol content will be as you consume those drinks, based on your height and weight. One reviewer noted that you can fine-tune this BAC model by adjusting for your metabolism rate.
AlcoDroid can also help you save you some money by helping you keep track how much you’re actually spending on drinks. (A look at that total might even be enough to inspire you to cut back on your drinking!)
The website Healthline named AlcoDroid one of its top alcoholism apps in 2015.
Cell phone breathalyzers
If police officers stop you on suspicion of DUI, one of the things they’ll probably do is administer a screening breathalyzer test to you. So wouldn’t it be helpful if you knew whether or not you could pass such a test before you get behind the wheel?
Personal breathalyzers for cell phones have been available for a while, but there’s still some controversy about just how effective they are. In January 2017, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it was taking action against the Breathometer Original, which had claimed that it would deliver “law-enforcement accuracy” when it came to measuring BAC. The problem was, it didn’t, and the company knew it.
A New York Times article from December 2015 found that only one of the three devices that the reporter tested actually delivered results that matched the control police breathalyzer used for the comparison.
Another drawback with the cell phone breathalyzer is user error. If someone downs a drink and then tests their BAC, they’re going to get an inaccurate reading. It takes some time for the alcohol to show up in your bloodstream. You’ll have to allow that extra time if you’re going to get anything like an accurate reading.
If you do decide that you want to have your own cell-phone breathalyzer, BACtrack is probably a good bet. It’s one of the most well-known and most accurate models. Available for both iOS and Android phones, the system includes a small device that you breathe into that measures your BAC and that sends those results to your mobile device. A BACtrack device that attaches to your keychain runs about $50; a larger (and more accurate) device sells for about $100.
Avoiding DUI Checkpoints
While there are some apps that claim to identify DUI checkpoints available on both Google Play and the Apple iTunes store, they don’t have particularly high ratings.
What many people are using today, however, is the Waze app. Waze says it is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app; drivers in an area share real-time traffic and road info, alerting others to problem areas ahead.
Those problem areas include DUI checkpoints, and Waze has been pretty effective in helping drivers avoid them. That’s made some law enforcement officials unhappy. (It’s not only because intoxicated drivers may be getting away, but also because they think that identifying police locations could make the officers more vulnerable to attack.)
In 2015, police officers in Miami decided to make motorists suspect Waze’s accuracy. Hundreds of officers in the area downloaded the app and began flooding it with inaccurate information. But input from other motorists using the app helps Waze correct such false reports, so it remains a popular tool for traffic information—and for DUI checkpoint avoidance.
In Painesville, Ohio, Municipal Court Judge Michael Cicconetti is requiring defendants convicted of DUI to download (and activate with their credit cards) the Uber and Lyft ride-sharing apps.
But you don’t have to wait until for a court order to find a safer way home when you’ve had too much to drink. Both of the ride services are available in the Los Angeles area; you can download the Uber app and/or the Lyft app.
Prefer a more traditional ride service? Curb Los Angeles has the app for you. Curb claims to be the #1 taxi app in the U.S., serving 65 cities throughout the country. It emphasizes that it connects only with fully licensed, insured drivers.
Curb covers southern Los Angeles County from San Fernando in the north to Calabasas and Santa Monica in the west, Long Beach to the south and Fontana in the east. Cab company partners include:
• LA Yellow Cab Company
• South Bay Yellow Cab
• Fiesta Taxi
• Long Beach Yellow Cab
• Pomona Yellow Cab
• Metro Cab of Santa Monica
• LA City Cab
If you’ve decided that giving up alcohol is the best (or maybe the only) way that you’re going to avoid getting another DUI, SoberTool is a highly-rated and free app available both for Android phones and iPhones. It tracks the number of days that you remain clean and sober and—to provide a little more motivation—also calculates the money you’ve saved by not drinking. You’ll also get daily motivation tips.
The app can help you deal with the emotional side of giving up alcohol as well. You can choose from a list of words that describe how you currently feel, and the app provides responses that will provide some answers on how to deal with that feeling and remain sober.