Space Age Alcohol Detection System Funded In 2012 Transportation Bill

Most drivers are aware that a DUI conviction can lead to the installation of an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. An ignition interlock, of course, will not allow a vehicle to start unless the driver breathes into the device and passes a test for alcohol consumption; the driver may also be required to periodically provide a breath sample while the engine is in operation.

The consequences of a DUI arrest can be harsh if you are ultimately convicted, and an ignition interlock may be the least of your worries. But forget alcohol testing as a consequence: some in Congress are pushing for the development of a new technology that would subject all drivers to alcohol testing, to the tune of 24 million taxpayer dollars.

Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety Would Be Everyman Ignition Interlock

Ignition interlocks are clunky, aftermarket systems in which drivers must blow into a tube to start their vehicles. As a required component in vehicles, no one is seriously optimistic about the reception such an obtrusive system would receive from the American public as a standard vehicle component.

But what about a discrete, sensor-based alcohol detection technology wired directly into the electronics system of the vehicle? No tubes, no clumsy equipment, just a seamlessly integrated system that would prevent drivers over the legal limit from starting their vehicles.

A technology known as the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, or DADSS, is now being developed in an effort to eliminate invasiveness from behind the wheel alcohol detection. Two different conceptions of the technology – one that would automatically measure alcohol in the driver’s breath and another that would utilize touch technology to take a reading from points of contact with the driver’s skin – are being explored by researchers working with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The NHTSA insists it has no current plans to mandate DADSS for all vehicles (an easy promise to make, considering the technology is not expected to hit the market for at least eight years), and proponents claim that DADSS systems would not be calibrated to lock out a driver unless he or she was over the legal blood alcohol limit of 0.08. However, some critics are skeptical of cars that could potentially override the driver’s commands and fear a slippery slope towards zero tolerance for alcohol consumption. Others are simply weary of excessive spending; transportation legislation currently in Congress earmarks $24 million over the next two years for the development of DADSS.

With New Technology Years Off, Heavy Penalties Still Used To Prevent Drunk Driving

Even though it is far from implementation, DADSS is certainly breathing new life into the national drunk driving dialogue. But, until we can rely on advanced technology to combat impaired driving, the draconian penalties for DUI will continue to be the government’s tool of choice, to the detriment of those convicted of drunk driving. If you are facing a drunk driving charge, protect your rights and your future by contacting a DUI defense attorney today.