News

Breathalyzer ‘selfies’ paint portrait of drinking trends

Breathalyzer ‘selfies’ paint portrait of drinking trends

BAC-TRACKING:Zest's special events manager Lindsy Wing demonstrates their breathalyzer at Zest Kitchen & Bar Friday, Feb. 14, in Salt Lake City. Breathalyzers and similar devices could pop up in more bars across Utah under a coming proposal from Draper Republican Rep. Greg Hughes. The measure is still incubating, but it aims to cut down on drunk driving in Utah. Photo: Associated Press/Rick Bowmer

By Sharon Begley

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The first data from breathalyzer selfies – measurements of blood-alcohol content by a new smartphone app – show that users drank the most on the weekend of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.

San Francisco-based breathalyzer manufacturer BACtrack reported on Wednesday that the highest average blood-alcohol content (BAC) from April 2013 to April 2014 was registered on Saturday, June 22, at 0.115 percent. The legal definition for drunk driving is 0.08 percent.

The data shed light on drinking patterns, which can guide highway patrols and others determining when to focus drunk-driving enforcement.

But the primary purpose of the $149.99 BACtrack Mobile, which consists of a breathalyzer that sends readings via Bluetooth to a smartphone and was introduced in 2013, is to raise people’s awareness of how drinking affects their BAC and therefore causes impairment, said BACtrack founder and Chief Executive Officer Keith Nothacker.

BACtrack Mobile data confirmed that one of the most booze-fueled holidays was New Year’s Eve (an average of 0.095), followed by Superbowl Sunday (0.087) and Valentine’s Day (0.081). The average BAC on Mother’s Day (0.069) exceeded that on St. Patrick’s (0.057).

The mobile app is intended to let users check their blood-alcohol content before getting behind the wheel, but 15 percent of the 100,000-plus tests were on friends and others. That seemed wise: tests on friends found an average BAC of 0.085, while selfies averaged 0.066.

Not surprisingly, the highest average BACs were recorded after Saturday-night drinking, when they peaked (0.113) at 4 a.m. on Sunday.

The geography of drinking also offered some surprises. Users in Montana and South Dakota had the highest average BAC, at 0.101 percent, while the lowest were in New Hampshire (0.012), Delaware (0.027), and Utah (0.031), where the dominant Mormon Church forbids alcohol consumption.

But the BACtrack Mobile data jibes with arrests for drunk driving. Montana had the highest number of arrests per capita in 2013. New Hampshire had the lowest.

(Reporting by Sharon Begley; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Lisa Shumaker)

Latest Headlines

in Local

Judge Rejects Plea Deal In Orono Sex Crime Case

GENERIC TRIAL 1

A judge in Bangor, Maine, is rejecting a plea deal from an Orono man who faces more than 100 charges of sex crimes against children.

in Local

UMaine-Machias President To Resign In December

GENERIC SCHOOL

University of Maine officials say the president of the system's Machias campus will resign at the end of December.

in Local

Maine’s Cutler Proposes Election Reforms For State

CUTLER

Independent Maine governor candidate Eliot Cutler is proposing election reforms on the heels of a court decision designed to level the campaign finance playing field.

in Local

Woman Charged with Stealing $750,000 from Employer

GENERIC MONEY LARGE

A New Hampshire woman charged with stealing $750,000 from her Maine-based employer has appeared in federal court in Portland.

in Local

Maine Pays $7.2M For Land On Portland Waterfront

MONEY PILE LARGE SIZE

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - The Maine Department of Transportation has paid a Portland businessman $7.2 million for 18 acres of industrial waterfront land it seized from him this spring as part of a seaport terminal expansion project.