Thursday, December 3, 2009

One state has created a free iPhone program that lets users attempt calculate their breath alcohol content

iPhone appplication to help estimate blood-alcohol content. One state has created a free iPhone program that lets users attempt calculate their breath alcohol content.

Input various information — weight, sex, number of hours since you began drinking, type and amount of alcoholic beverages you've consumed, then it attempts to estimate what your blood alcohol level is based on your breath sample.

In addition to getting an estimated blood-alcohol content, users see messages such as, "No hangover expected," and "You're buzzed."

If they are considered over the legal blood-alcohol level for driving under the influence — 0.08 percent — the app displays an apt warning: "Don't even think about it."

"People just need to be aware of how alcohol affects them," said Heather Halpape, a spokeswoman for Colorado Department of Transportation safety programs. "This is just a tool to give them a little idea of where they are."

There's more. Users can click on a "Taxi" icon for the phone number of the closest Yellow Cab office. Called "R-U-Buzzed?" the app uses the iPhone's GPS to determine the person's location before offering the telephone number.

It's the first time a state transportation department has created such an app, agency officials say.

But it's not intended as a substitute for common sense. Difficulty entering the information might mean you're a good candidate to walk home.

CDOT stresses the program should be used only as a guide as it doesn't consider other critical factors, such as an individual user's metabolism or whether they've had anything to eat.

Developed by Denver-based ID345, the app is part of CDOT's "Plan Ahead" campaign to cut down on drunken driving during the holidays.

It's proving popular, as it has already been downloaded 3,000 times since it was posted in Apple's app store in mid-November. It ranks among the Top 50 health and fitness programs, according to ID345.

Emily Tompkins, Colorado executive director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said she doesn't advocate for the tool because too many other factors can affect a person's impairment level.

"I think there's a lot of room for error, and people just really have to understand it's an estimate and the point is to plan before you've been drinking," Tompkins said.

She lauded the campaign's overall message, which encourages people to decide how they'll get home before they start drinking.

The campaign targets the holidays because of the surge in office and house parties.

The campaign is in its third year. Today, CDOT is expected to announce a new website,

The site will serve as the campaign's hub of information, listing more than 60 bars and restaurants in Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs that will provide free $5 vouchers for cab rides during the holidays.

Seven hotels in Denver, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs have agreed to give customers a discount if they ask for the "Plan Ahead" rate.

Yellow Cab is paying for the design and printing of the taxi vouchers and offering free Plan Ahead advertising on its vehicles. In return, Yellow Cab is the program's exclusive taxi in Denver, Boulder and northern Colorado.