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

Walmarts Evacuated After Bomb Threats


A series of automated voicemail bomb threats caused several Walmarts to be evacuated across the state Saturday evening.

in Local

Maine Police: 6 Fires Intentionally Set Along Interstate 95


Maine State Police say they are looking for a white sedan with two men inside who may be responsible for setting six fires along a 10-mile stretch of Interstate 95 southbound from Waterville to Sidney.

in Local

Methamphetamine Continues to be a Problem in Maine


Maine's heroin epidemic is getting much of the attention from law enforcement officials and policymakers, but methamphetamine continues to be a persistent problem.

in Local

Maine Asking For Help Tracking Invasive, Destructive Moth


AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is asking for the public's help in locating destructive winter moth populations around the state.

in Trending, Viral Videos

TODAY’S MUST SEE: Harrison Ford, Chewbacca settle feud


With a little help from Jimmy Kimmel and Adele, Harrison Ford and Chewbacca finally set aside their past differences.


  • 7h
  • 8h
  • 16h
  • 33h
  • 47h
  • 47h