Last year, 801 people died in alcohol related traffic fatalities in the state of Texas. This number has climbed over the past several years. In 2009, Texas had the most alcohol related fatalities of any state in the country. These numbers have pushed lawmakers to take more aggressive steps in getting drunk drivers off the road, including mandatory blood draws. [Read more…]
The anti-drunk driving organization, MADD, is pushing for $60 million in federal funding to research technology that would prevent any car from starting if the driver is intoxicated. These goal of such systems standard in all cars, and possibly set at the threshold level of “any” alcohol, are prompting concerns that MADD has veered into being a neo-prohibitionist organization. [Read more…]
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.