Mobile Rideshare Company Uber Putting Up Breathlyzer Kiosks to Prevent DUIs Across the Country
Seattle has become the latest home for Uber’s Breathalyzer kiosks, which have been making appearances in the US and Canada recently.
The kiosks are part of an initiative from the ridesharing company, called “Uber Safe,” which aims to help those who have too much to drink get home safely. In April, Uber installed the breathalyzer kiosks in Toronto after uncovering research that showed that drunk driving accidents and arrests triple after midnight in Canada.
Now, the company is taking the kiosks to the US. In early October, Uber installed the breathalyzer stations at points in Austin, Texas, as part of the Austin City Limits Music Festival. The company also said that they will launch the stations across Seattle, Washington.
“This is one more step to ensure that people consider other options before getting behind the wheel to drive,” Uber General Manager Brooke Steger said.
The kiosks use an undisclosed type of breathalyzer device to register the user’s blood alcohol content. If the user’s BAC registers over the legal limit – 0.08 for all adults 21 and over across the United States – then the kiosk allows the person to hail an Uber driver and get a ride home, free of charge. Some kiosks, such as the ones installed in Austin for the music festival, give the user a $10 credit toward a ride, as incentive to avoid driving under the influence.
Breathalyzer kiosks are also becoming a familiar sight across Seattle. Not only will Uber sponsor their specific kiosks, but earlier in the fall, individual bars in the city began installing similar devices inside bars to allow patrons to self-check their BACs.
“I like the idea that people can self-monitor in the bars and they really have no idea if they’re over the limit or not,” said Bob Brazel, a retired construction manager who began the installation program. “What this gives the customer is a chance to get an indication of where they are in the blood alcohol.”
Brazel said his machines are 95% accurate, but stated that law enforcement officers are the only people with 100% accurate breathalyzer machines.
South Carolina law enforcement officers use a DataMaster Breath test, which is a desktop device, as admissible court evidence that a suspect committed DUI. In order to get the suspect into the police station for the test, however, officers have to establish probable cause. In some DUI cases, officers use handheld devices “in the field” – these readings are not admissible as evidence in court, but they are enough to establish, through readings of alcohol on the breath, that a suspect might be intoxicated. Another method of establishing probable cause for a DUI charge involves FSTs, or Field Sobriety Tests. Unfortunately, these tests can be skewed by a variety of factors, including the suspect’s nervousness during one-leg stand or line-walking tests, undisclosed medical conditions that impair balance, or the arresting officer’s own biases. It is also important for officers to film any breath test or field sobriety test administered.
While it is important for bar patrons to limit their drinks or find other transportation when drunk, a South Carolina DUI charge can ruin a person’s reputation. A DUI conviction may result in the loss of scholarship, school, or job opportunities because of this mark on their record.