breathalyzer cell phone (sobriety cell phone)

A breathalyzer cell phone, also known as a sobriety cell phone, is a cellular telephone handset equipped with a built-in device for detecting the presence of ethyl alcohol vapor in the breath. The Korean corporation LG (who also made the Internet refrigerator) manufactures a breathalyzer cell phone called the LP4100 that is in use by thousands of people in that country. It is expected to be available to consumers worldwide by late 2006.

The LP4100 can be programmed to prevent users from dialing certain numbers at certain times, based on blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than 0.08, the legal maximum for operating motor vehicles in most U.S. states. The user blows into a small opening on the phone set. If the BAC is above the threshold, the phone's LCD produces an image of a weaving car knocking down traffic cones. Beyond the prevention of drivers operating under the influence, a breathalyzer cell phone may be able to combat the infamous practice of "drunk dialing," where users contact friends and family (or, in the worst case, coworkers and superiors) late at night while intoxicated.

A breathalyzer is a device that can detect and measure a person's BAC based on a sample of exhaled air. The term, now considered generic, comes from the brand name "Breathalyzer" originally coined by Smith and Wesson. Breathalyzer brand names today include Alcotest, Alcosensor, Datamaster, Intoxilyzer and several others. Breathalyzers have also been installed in the cars of chronic drinkers to prevent ignition of the vehicle without a successful negative result.

This was last updated in July 2006

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