A US Congressman is proposing spending $40 million to investigate, research, and develop technology for cars to automatically detect alcohol consumption by the driver. The goal would be to prevent drunk driving before it happens.
According to reports, there may be multiple methods for detecting alcohol consumption, including skin sensors in the steering wheel, and other methods to analyze perspiration and breath.
Questions this raises include:
- What would happen if the car detects alcohol? Presumably the car would not start, but would police be notified and criminal action taken?
- What is the threshold for measuring alcohol? Is it set lower than the legal limit of .08% BAC?
- What is the remedy to challenge any false positives?
- Can the devices be sure that it isn’t a passenger who many be intoxicated and not the driver?
Everyone wants to prevent drunk driving, but this kind of extremely intrusive monitoring that bypasses any presumption of innocence is frightening, and could be a dangerous precedent.
According to the report by KENS 5 in San Antonio, the devices could be standard in new vehicles within 5 or 10 years.
Update: More info on the proposed car alcohol sensors here.