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…]
Over the past few decades, incidences of prescription drug abuse have skyrocketed. People are turning towards what would otherwise be legal substances to get their highs, often going to extremes to get the prescriptions. But whether or not that prescription is written to you, it is still illegal to get behind the wheel if you are impaired by drugs—any drugs. [Read more…]
A 25 year old resident of Nepal is now a wanted man after police released him following a wreck that killed 3 Houston teens. This isn’t just a story about the danger of drunk driving but how law enforcement determines if someone is a “flight risk”. The college student is now facing three charges of intoxicated manslaughter and is nowhere to be found. [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.
A new toxicology lab in Montgomery County has law enforcement and many in the legal community looking forward to faster turnaround when it comes to processing criminal evidence. The Sam Houston State University Regional Crime Lab opened this year, though it hasn’t begun receiving cases yet. It is estimated, by The Courier, that the new lab will be able to handle about 6,000 cases each year. [Read more…]
Texas is one of the few states that regularly holds “no refusal” weekends of aggressive DWI enforcement and prosecution. They may be employed on holiday weekends, or anytime law enforcement believes there may be an abundance of drunk drivers on the roads.
The term “no refusal” refers to a law enforcement tactic where they are set up to forcefully take of blood evidence from a suspected drunk drivers. [Read more…]
DWI surcharges in Texas took effect in 2004, but have not brought the results the state had hoped for . The hefty fines were implemented to hopefully prevent DWI offenses by adding a further deterrent effect, and simultaneously raise money for roads and trauma care. But things didn’t work out that way and now there’s a grand total of $1 billion in unpaid surcharges according to The Dallas Morning News. [Read more…]