Last month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed charges against Breathometer, Inc.–a company that markets two smartphone accessories designed to measure consumers’ BAC–and its CEO in federal court, claiming they lacked scientific evidence to support their claims. The complaint, filed on January 23, 2017 in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, seeks a permanent injunction, rescission of contract, monetary damages, and other equitable relief in connection with the marketing and sale of the applications Breathometer Original ($49) and Breathometer Breeze ($99). The company and its CEO recently settled with the FTC.
Both are devices operated in conjunction with the Breathometer smartphone app. While the Original attaches to a smartphone via the audio jack, the Breeze is operated by Bluetooth. The devices work by blowing into the device. Within seconds, a BAC level is displayed on the phone. The company even had a deal with Uber in which Uber would pick up riders whose BACs were too high to drive.
The FTC complaint alleged that Breathometer’s CEO Charles Michael Yim obtained financing for his product by pitching the investors Shark Tank. Advertisements for both the Original and the Breeze claimed the products’ accuracy was supported by “government-lab grade testing.”
The director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection said that consumers relied on Breathometer’s products to determine whether they could safely operate a vehicle, and overstating the accuracy of the devices was deceptive and dangerous.
While Breathometer claimed it stopped selling its breathalyzer in early 2015, the FTC claimed some devices were still available in early 2016. In May 2016, Breathometer notified retailers and users, alerting them to inaccuracies in the device. Last October, the company disabled the breathalyzer feature entirely.
The FTC files a complaint when it has reason to believe that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears that a proceeding is in the public interest. When signed by the District Court judge, stipulated final orders have the force of law.
Pursuant to the settlement, Breathometer, Inc. and its CEO are barred from any future claims that their products are accurate without first conducting rigorous scientific testing to support those claims. The company is required to alert customers to the lack of scientific testing and give full refunds for devices sold between 2013 and 2015.
The Original and the Breeze are sold on Breathometer’s website, as well as at Amazon, BestBuy, and Brookstone. The devices quickly rose to prominence after appearing on the television show Shark Tank. The complaint alleges that the sales of both products have totaled $5.1 million. In 2015, Breathometer announced its plans for a new product called Mint that measures oral health and hydration.
Moving forward, Yim claims Breathometer is moving away from the “alcohol business” and is instead committed to designing devices for “health and wellness.”
If you have been charged with a DUI offense in Illinois, it is crucial to speak to an experienced Illinois DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Harvatin Law Offices, PC provides knowledgeable representation to people in Springfield and throughout Illinois. We have considerable experience defending individuals charged with DUI offenses and representing drivers with revoked licenses before the Illinois Secretary of State. To learn more, and to set up a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 217.525.0520.
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West Virginia Supreme Court Says Drunk Driving is Illegal on Private Property, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, November 7, 2016.