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Federal government at work on auto alcohol detection tech

The rapid evolution of technology has dramatically changed driving over recent years. From GPS systems to hands-free phone operation and on-board computer systems that put drivers in touch with help or information in moments, high-tech has revolutionized the behind-the-wheel experience.

Another big change is one the horizon, as federal safety regulators work with tech companies to develop a “seamless” alcohol detection system that would reduce or even eliminate alcohol-related accidents and DUI arrests

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration administrator involved in vehicle safety research recently said alcohol detection systems are one of several the independent federal agency is looking at to make driving safer. Though he gave no specific details about the detection systems, past statements from the NHTSA and articles on proposed devices indicate alcohol detection would be thoroughly integrated so that a driver wouldn’t have to submit to tests to have their breath analyzed or touch tested.

Previous articles on the subject have noted that researchers are at work on sensors that would be activated by contact with skin – located perhaps in the steering wheel – and capable of analyzing a person’s alcohol consumption. If a certain threshold is passed, the detection system would disable the vehicle.

Another possibility is a system that would sample the air in a vehicle, again searching for alcohol traces. If a threshold is reached, the vehicle could not be started or driven.

There’s little doubt that civil libertarians and others will raise objections if the systems are required by the federal government in all vehicles, but that’s perhaps material for a future blog post. We’ll end this post by noting that in the present, Loudoun County residents still face some of the nation’s toughest punishments after a DUI arrest. For most of them, the very first step in doing all they can to minimize the damage is to sit down and talk with an attorney experienced in DUI defense.  

Source: Automotive News, "Safety regulators working on cars that can detect drunk drivers," Larry P. Vellequette, August 4, 2014

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