New Police Tool Raises DUI Suspicion

“Officer, Is That a Flashlight in Your Hand or …”

You’ve been pulled over. You had been drinking, but not a lot and you really felt pretty confident that you could drive safely. Just the same, you don’t want to have to submit to a field sobriety test. Before police officers can give you a sobriety test, they must have a REASONABLE SUSPICION that you were driving under the influence.

Now, you may have been weaving in and out of your lane, or sitting at the intersection while the traffic lights went from red to green to yellow and back to red again. If you were pulled over because of your driving, then you may have already raised the suspicion necessary to initiate testing. You have already raised a red flag.

But what if you were pulled over for a tail light or talking on the cell phone? So far, no suspicion of drunk driving has been raised.

In either case, if you have been drinking moderately, the first direct evidence that a police officer usually encounters is through SMELL. You may not notice it, but the alcohol coming from your lungs and in your sweat is Very noticeable to others. Its called being ‘STINKING DRUNK’. In short, if you reek, you raise suspicion!

People who are Stinking Drunk usually wind up blowing over .10 on the breathalyzer. But at lower BAC levels, the officer’s nose may not pick up the scent. This is a concern because if you are under 21, you must not have ANY alcohol in your system when driving. Even a .02 is arrest-worthy for you, though you may still smell OK from arm’s length.

It's a BuzzKill - from

It’s a BuzzKill – from

Police have a new tool to sniff out underage drinkers and buzzed drivers. It is a special FLASHLIGHT with a built-in Passive Alcohol Sensor known as The Sniffer, or BuzzKill Flashlight. A Passive Alcohol Sensor is an electronic ‘nose’ that detects alcohol by smelling the air. It does not have to touch you to get a reading. The Sniffer can reliably detect alcohol from a distance of about 20″. So when the officer first shines his flashlight in your face, he can obtain a reading from the sensor which, if positive, can provide the REASONABLE SUSPICION necessary to initiate a full-on field sobriety test.

BUZZED DRIVERS TAKE NOTE – It is not enough to be a competent driver when slightly impaired. The Sniffer can raise suspicions that might have been overlooked before. Get used to the technology available to law enforcement and get used to the idea that hiding your drunkenness is becoming more and more impossible. Get used to the idea that when you drink, you must not drive.

Here is a news story from WBOY-TV 12 in Monongalia County, WV about deployment of the new flashlights.

The company that makes the PAS-enabled flashlight (PAS Systems International) puts the same technology in a number of other items like this aluminum forms holder/clipboard. As fuel-cell technology becomes cheaper, this concept is going to find its way into other types of equipment and one day make it tougher to operate all kinds of dangerous machinery after drinking. For now, if you’ve been drinking and driving, or if you are an underage drinker, it is ready to sniff you out!

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Allen Porter
Dedicated to teaching and inspiring the prevention of drunk driving.

3 Responses

  1. bob
    bob April 7, 2015 at 2:15 pm |

    neat device, although deployment and implementation is sure to bring many lawsuits, a burnt light bulb is not grounds for a search, especially an unannounced one.

  2. Preston Pierce
    Preston Pierce December 25, 2014 at 8:00 am |

    You have the right to refuse field soberity tests. There may be consequences. Before paying your DUI seek legal advice from an experienced traffic ticket attorney.

  3. Morgan
    Morgan August 3, 2013 at 5:11 pm |

    I had the chance to see one of these sniffer flashlights in action at one of the SHOT shows in Las Vegas. PAS Systems International was there and demoing the light/intoxilizer at an after hours vendor party. I’d had a few beers (not driving, obviously) and when the PAS rep waived the “light” up close to my face, it registered a .06 from about 12 inches away. Although I didn’t get the chance to blow into an actual breathalyzer machine, it was a pretty neat device to see in action.


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