On Your Side

The inside scoop on sober apps

CREATED Jan 25, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - There are many ways to get buzzed, but how do you know when your night of kicking back may have kicked the legal limit? That's where sober apps come in.

Technology claims to have your back--letting you know when you've had too much to drink and shouldn't get behind the wheel.

Phillip Belman is a Smartphone user. He's skeptical. He says, "People rely on Smartphones for everything. I mean if you can make your own judgement--you gotta rely on an app these days? Come on now."

The idea is catching on. Hundreds of thousands of people have downloaded apps like the Alcodroid Alcohol Tracker. You plug in your weight, if you drank on a full stomach, how long you drank, and what you drank to the ounce. Amy Todd says that sounds a little complicated. "The whole put in your weight and how many hours I guess at that point how much do you really know how many ounces or whatever. It's a little complicated."

Prosecutors like Tricia Freeman think it's flat out ridiculous. She says, "To think that an app could take into account all of those variables is just ridiculous."

But the apps don't stop there. 'You Sober' judges how straight of a line you walk with your phone in hand. Some apps even scan your eye, all in hopes keeping you from behind the wheel.

"I think you have to start from the premise that once you've consumed alcohol you're impaired. Are you impaired to the point that you can't safely operate a motor vehicle? Maybe not," Tricia says.

The 'Breathalyzer App' says that the: "Application is based on a mathematcial algorithm and its results may differ from the actual."

Other apps say they're meant only for fun, but prosecutors say it still gives a false sense of security.

Jason Caul is a prosecutor. He says, "I can't fault the companies that come up with these to make money. I think it's wrong to use those for the determination of, 'Can I drive?'"

Prosecutors warn a 'sober app' defense won't stand up in court.

"That initial decision to first download that ap and then to actually use that app, that thought process - you probably have bigger issues that you need to think about before you ever use that app," Caul warns.

Another reminder--a 'sober app' should never replace the need for a designated driver when you go out on the town.