Government researching vehicle alcohol-detecting devices

There is a variety of punishment for convicted drunk drivers in Florida. In some states, the convicted must use ignition interlock devices in their vehicles, which can detect their blood-alcohol content through breath tests and prevent their vehicles from starting if they are above the legal limit of .08.

The idea is to prevent even more car accidents. Now the government is investing in research regarding whether similar technology could practically be used in all vehicles — not just those of convicted drunk drivers.

The government has reportedly already invested about $10 million into research, with another $24 million that could be added thanks to a federal transportation bill. There are two versions of the technology that are being looked at.

One is called distant spectrometry, which would involve installed sensors in the car that could essentially “sniff” a driver’s breath to detect alcohol. The other is called tissue spectrometry. That system would use lasers and a touchpad to detect alcohol in a person’s blood.

There are potential problems with the systems, though. What if the technology fails and someone is not able to start their car? According to the LA Times, even if it worked 99.99966 percent of the time, that would leave 4,000 people in this country stranded every day.

The restaurant industry, too, is likely to hit back if the technology makes its way into every car. They argue that the technology would flag people who aren’t legally drunk, and thus would divert them from ordering alcoholic beverages at dinner.

What do you think? If the technology can be streamlined, would you support it?

Source: LA Times, “Should future cars curb drunk drivers?” Dan Turner, March 28, 2012