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Michigan Criminal Law Blog

DUI-OWI: The Top Four Apps to Download for your next Night Out

I am often asked by clients, friends and family what advice I can give if they are pulled over after they had been drinking alcohol.  I consistently respond that the best advice I can give is to avoid it.  Leave the car at home and find a sober friend to drive or call a taxi.

In addition to my own advice, a number of iPhone and Android apps have been developed to encourage drivers to think twice before getting behind the wheel. It is important to understand that these apps are not tools to combat the State’s evidence of your intoxication or convince an officer to let you go.  They are simply there as extra encouragement to avoid finding yourself facing a drunk driving charge.

Another important factor to remember is that in Michigan you can be charged and convicted of a drunk driving crime even if you are under the legal limit.  A Michigan OWVI or Impaired Driving charge does not have a limit of allowable alcohol content.  The State need only prove that you were visibly impaired at the time of driving.  Knowing this, extra caution should be taken when experimenting with this apps.  As stated previously, the best advice is to avoid the traffic stop by leaving your vehicle home.

Many individuals insist they are still able to drive, even if they are obviously intoxicated. In such situations, friends often need to present proof that the individual is unfit to drive.  The following apps should help accomplish that goal.  Additionally, these apps can be entertaining!

Here are four of the most popular DUI/OWI apps on the market today:


MichiganDriver is an app with internal links to essentially all Michigan Motor Vehicle Code laws, rules and regulations.  As a Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney I love it, but it can also prove valuable for non-attorneys.

In one area it links you to the Michigan Traffic Offense Code Manual that lists all Michigan Traffic Offenses and their corresponding points and license sanctions.  Additionally, there are areas that discuss Driver Responsibility Fees, Driver Improvement Course and License Restoration.

It is a great app with lots of useful information for attorneys and all Michigan drivers.


BreathalEyes is an iPhone app that detects the eye’s involuntary movement. This app is similar to the field sobriety test Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) that police officers conduct on suspected drunk drivers. The involuntary twitching and jerking of the eye is a signal that there is alcohol present in an individuals system.  BreathalEyes uses the iPhone’s camera to record a driver’s eye movement while the driver’s head remains forward.

The HGN test that officer’s conduct on the roadside has a multitude of pitfalls that call into question its accuracy, and Michigan Court’s have ruled that the HGN is not a measure of intoxication, but merely the presence of alcohol in the system.  Still, this app can certainly be a useful tool in reinforcing the importance in finding an alternative means of transportation.


DrinkTracker is an app that keeps a record of one’s BAC and the drinks that one consumes for the evening using a BAC calculator and a personal Breathalyzer simulator. The app requires a one-time setup of the user’s personal profile, which includes his or her age, sex, height, and weight.

When the user begins to drink, he or she must select his or her profile. The DrinkTracker compares the user’s alcohol intake and estimated metabolic rate, and then provides the user with regular updates of BAC levels.

The app is also able to set a target BAC, allowing the app’s countdown timer to be set to the approximate time this target is reached.  When using this option it is vital to remember that it is only an estimate.  A persons metabolism of alcohol can fluctuate greatly depending on a wide number of variables.  One should not use this app as proof that they are above or below the legal limit of .08.

The latest version of DrinkTracker includes a GPS-based feature called “Outta Here!”. This feature uses Google Maps so that a user may obtain directions to his or her next destination, call a taxi, or even email other contact to pick the user up.


Intoxicheck is an app that helps individuals determine how impaired they are in terms of their reaction time, memory, dexterity, and sense of judgement. The app is made up of six self-administered challenges that help drivers to estimate their level of intoxication.

Intoxicheck first creates an unimpaired standard by allowing the user to perform the challenges while still sober. After having consumed alcohol, the individual must then perform the same challenges. The app compares the before and after results, purporting to assess how impaired the user is.

Reliability of DUI / OWI Smartphone Apps

With so many DUI / OWI prevention apps out there, it’s important to note that they are by no means perfect or 100% reliable. Many of these apps come with a legal disclaimer that makes it clear to users that these apps are primarily intended for entertainment purposes.

These apps to intend to provide their users with useful tools that help ensure safe driving. Of course, these apps do not want to provide a false sense of security, and cannot guarantee that they can prevent users from being arrested for DUI or OWI.

If you have been charged with a Michigan DUI/OWI contact Attorney Andrew Kowalkowski today for a consultation  248-974-9594.

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