These days, smartphones seem to be the answer to everything including, apparently, drunk driving.
A new device called the Breathometer is billed as the "World's First Smartphone Breathalyzer." Its makers say it gives people the opportunity to asses their ability to drive before the police have to.
About the size of a key fob, Breathometer attaches to a smartphone through the audio jack. It forms a mouthpiece for bar flies and tailgaters to breath into; after five seconds an app (compatible with iOS and Android) on the phone analyzes the results.
The Breathometer's manufacturer says the device is just as accurate as conventional breathalyzers. It uses FDA-approved semiconductor sensors, and was calibrated by exposing to a controlled amount of air alcohol concentration, the company says.
A pocket breathalyzer sounds like it could come in handy, but it could also be too casual a way to deal with a serious situation.
As with most other human endeavors, liability may be an issue. It's unclear, for example, if a person who ignores warnings from the device is more liable for any damage he or she may cause behind the wheel.
While the company says users can trust the Breathometer's readings, it's still a potentially contradictory source of information. It's hard to say what would happen if a police breathalyzer produced a different result than he pocket device.
Lawyers may soon be pondering these questions, because the Breathometer is schedule to ship in October, at a price of $49 per copy.