image of breathalyzer

Can Car Alcohol Detection Systems Reduce Drunk Driving Accidents?

A Possible Solution for a Deadly Problem

You’ve probably familiar with the concept of Breathalyzer testing, if only through its depiction in police dramas. When someone suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) breathes into this device, chemicals inside it react to alcohol by changing color. Depending on the final color, the police can determine the suspect’s intoxication level.

Breathalyzers can work quite well on a drunk driver who has already pulled over and submitted to testing. When attached to a vehicle ignition system, a setup known as ignition interlock, a Breathalyzer can require the driver to blow into it before the vehicle’s engine will start — and then prevent the engine from engaging if the numbers indicate legal intoxication. New technological advances may build the detector right into the vehicle, make alcohol-detecting cars the wave of the future.

Advances in Vehicular Alcohol Detection

The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) program, funded by the U.S. government, has led the charge in developing new in-car alcohol detection technologies and equipment. The two main approaches under development include breath-based detection and touch-based detection.

The breath-based technology works much like the standard portable breath-detection devices used by police in cases of suspected intoxication. However, instead of requiring the driver to blow into an apparatus, the built-in equipment calculates BAC by analyzing the exhaled air in the cabin. Readings of 0.08 or higher prevent the car from starting.

The touch-based alcohol detection method takes BAC measurements by analyzing the driver’s skin. Manufacturers would build special infrared light into essential features such as the starter button or steering wheel. When the driver touches the control, the infrared light shines on it and instructs the car of your status.

A Step Toward Greater Safety for All

The federal government has prepared legislation to make passive alcohol detection systems a requirement in all new cars by 2024. The instrumentality must become fairly foolproof before automakers can actually incorporate them into vehicle designs. For instance, designers must figure out how to sidestep false positives that might lock sober people out of their cars. They must also minimize weaknesses that might permit drivers to disable the technology. But successfully keeping drivers’ BAC levels below 0.08 could save the lives of an estimated 9,409 people each year.

Until this new technology becomes the law of the land, individuals had better police their own driving practices. Even a first DUI offense in Georgia can mean jail time and/or a fine. Repeat offenders can expect up to five years in prison, fines of up to $5,000, suspension of license, a required ignition interlock following the suspension, and (last but certainly not least) a felony record.

If you have questions about DUI laws, want to learn more about passive alcohol detection systems, or need representation in a DUI case, Amanda Hall Injury Law is here for you. Contact our office today.