A new Smartphone app may help determine if a person has had too much to drink before getting behind the wheel.
A traffic stop on suspicion of DUI inspired a Nashville inventor to develop BreathalEyes, an iPhone app to determine if someone's blood alcohol content is above the legal limit.
The app uses involuntary eye movement to determine blood alcohol content.
“When it got to the pen test I was sitting there thinking about how it works,” co-creator Clay Bradley said.
The pen test is a field sobriety exercise officers put a driver suspected of drunk driving through on the side of the road.
The pen measures horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), or involuntary eye movement, of the individual. People under the influence tend to exhibit HGN.
BreathalEyes uses the camera on an iPhone 4 or later model to analyze the eye movements of the person being tested. After the camera captures a set of images, it calculates blood alcohol content based on its measurements.
When the creators put the BreathalEyes app to the test they found it was correct with a +/-.02, according to the BreathalEyes' Web site.
“We think it can be informative and start people having the conservation of whether they are sober enough to drive,” co-creator Robert Andrews said.
The app has a disclaimer that explains it is only for entertainment purposes. It also states that each person reacts differently to alcohol and that the test results are for reference only and may be affected by conditions like high altitude and interactions with medication.
The disclaimer ends by saying BreathalEyes does not take any legal responsibility and urges its users to always drink responsibly.
Law enforcement officers warn that relying on the app alone is not enough to determine if a person should drive or not.
“There is timing, there is movement,” Franklin Police Officer Gino Frantoni said. “There is a lot of complicated information in there that you can not replicate with an application like that.”
Officer Frantoni is a certified DUI instructor and drug recognition expert.
“I do not recommend utilizing that to determine if you are impaired or not,” he said. “I believe if you have had something to drink and you are intoxicated the best thing is not to get behind the wheel of a vehicle.”
The co-creators said they want the app to raise awareness about drinking and driving at the critical time when a person is deciding whether or not to drive.
The app launched in late November on the Apple App Store and costs 99 cents to download.
Currently the app has been rated four stars out of five stars by 31 users.
“It has kind of been expanding,” co-creator Russell Ries said. “Waves of people are becoming aware of the app.”
He continued, “We started seeing it grow exponentially.”
The creators of BreathalEyes are working on a version of the app for the Android platform and hope to make it available later this year.