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New patch can measure alcohol levels in sweat

Tennessee motorists may be able to take advantage of an experimental device that can tell them if they have had too much to drink before getting behind the wheel of a car. A patch has been developed by researchers at the University of California, San Diego and funded by National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, and it measures alcohol levels in a person's perspiration. Then it transmits the information via smartphone.

The patch stimulates sweat on the area of skin where it is placed and uses electrical currents to measure alcohol. The researchers feel that the sensor might be a more discreet way to gauge alcohol consumption compared to a blood or breath test.

Previous efforts to use perspiration to measure intoxication levels have taken hours while this sensor works in under 10 minutes. There are nearly 10,000 annual fatalities from drunk driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and researchers hope that dangerous drinking levels will drop with the use of the device.

A person who is charged with driving under the influence may be facing serious consequences. In addition to the potential legal ramifications, which could include fines, license suspension, installation of an ignition interlock device, and jail time, a person might also face personal and employment consequences. For example, a person who has a prominent public position could be asked to step down or suspended. In some professions, such as education or health care, there might also be ramifications. Therefore, a person who is charged might want to consider a plea bargain if it means reducing those drunk driving charges to something like reckless driving. An attorney might also look into whether blood or breath tests were administered correctly.

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