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Household breathalyzers, do they work effectively?

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GREENVILLE, N.C. -

Alcohol detectors or breathalyzers are becoming more common nowadays. You can even find them at department stores at reasonable prices. But are they reliable?

Drinking and driving statistics can be daunting. One non-profit gave Pitt County a "D" for their arrest ratio. In 2005 for every 10,000 individuals, 96 were arrested.

But thanks to stricter laws, awareness and technology, DWI arrests dropped dramatically since 1992.

More are turning to blood alcohol concentration breathalyzers. They are similar to those used by law enforcement. The problem is, the fine print says the device cannot determine the subject's exact blood alcohol concentration and should not be used for such purposes.

"It may give someone a false sense of security. You don't necessarily have to blow a .08 to be impaired."

Trooper Doug Coley with the North Carolina Highway Patrol says many factors come into play before they charge someone with a DWI. Breathalyzers can confirm someone is drunk, but even their machines need to be tested for accuracy.

"To make sure that the sensor is working properly, we check it once every 30 days." Coley said.

So if you rely on such devices found at department stores, ranging from 30 to 50 dollars, troopers say you run a high risk for finding yourself on the other side of the law.

"When you mix in alcohol with inexperienced drivers and you throw in speed, we are losing young people's lives that we need to try to deter that behavior."

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