- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 29, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
At highway checkpoints this Labor Day weekend, Colorado state police will be handing out tickets as well as devices drivers can use to measure their blood-alcohol content.
"We're hoping we will give people an additional tool that will help make the decision not to drive after drinking," Capt. Jim Wolfinbarger of the Colorado State Patrol said.
"Traditionally, thousands of times a year, people are making poor decisions," Capt. Wolfinbarger said. "If they're fortunate, they'll make it home. If they're unfortunate, they'll get arrested. If it's a tragedy, they'll kill somebody."
Federal statistics showed the number of persons killed in alcohol-related crashes rose from 17,380 in 2000 to 17,448 in 2001, the first increase in five years.
Police see the Guardian Angel Personal Alcohol Test they are distributing in Colorado as a weapon against drunken driving. It is among several products on the market that allow drivers to measure their blood-alcohol content and learn when they are approaching the legal limit, 0.08 percent in most states.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving has not taken an official position on Guardian Angel, though MADD President Wendy Hamilton is concerned some people will feel they can have a few drinks and get behind the wheel as long as the device shows them below the legal limit.
"They'll be under the legal level but they're still going to be impaired," she said. "They can still go out and injure or kill some people. That's what we're afraid of."
But the head of the National Commission Against Drunk Driving, a nonprofit advocacy group pushing for stronger laws against drunken-driving, said the devices help motorists make intelligent decisions.
"When it comes to personal responsibility, ignorance is not the answer," John Moulden said. "People need to understand what their personal blood-alcohol limits are and they need to have the information so they can at least make a responsible decision before they get impaired."
The Guardian Angel device is a strip that is placed in the mouth for 10 seconds, then held to a "risk meter" which ranks alcohol content in saliva three ways lower, higher or highest, which means blood-alcohol content is 0.08 or above. The product's package urges people not to drink and drive, warns that even some alcohol can impair judgment and includes an 800 number for taxis.
A package of four strips is available for less than $2 at various convenience stores, drugstores and supermarkets.
"It's a way to defuse that debate for car keys at the end of the evening," Guardian Angel Vice President Jeff Scult said. "This is not a tool to green-light drinking and driving and drink up to the limit. This is to help people become educated to make the right decision not to drive."
Another product, the Breath Alcohol Check by Akers Biosciences, is a small tube filled with crystals. A person blows into it for 12 seconds. Blood-alcohol content is determined by how many of the crystals change color.
It has been sold to police departments and commercial truckers and trucking companies for about two years. The product also is available to consumers in some European countries.

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