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Should alcohol detection devices be the future of DUI prevention?

Posted by Craig Penrod | Feb 07, 2014 | 0 Comments

Among a number of proposals designed to discourage driving under the influence (DUI) is the use of a device in all vehicles that would measure the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of the driver before the vehicle would be allowed to start.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS), representing 17 automobile manufacturers, have collaborated on a program called the Driver Alcohol Detection System For Safety (DADSS). Despite the apparent good intentions of this program there are still a number of questions that need to be addressed.

In Tempe, Phoenix or other communities in Maricopa County, it is important that you consult experienced Arizona DUI lawyers like those associated with the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C.

The apparent idea behind the driver alcohol detection system is that all vehicles would be required to be equipped with what amounts to an ignition interlock device (IID). As in the case of a person who has convicted of DUI, a breath sample would be provided and analyzed before the driver would be allowed to start their vehicle. If the device determined that the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of the driver was over the legal limit of 0.08, the vehicle would not be allowed to operate.

Researchers working on this project are examining two types of alcohol measuring devices. The first is a device designed to measure the BAC level of a driver after they have touched their tissue to the device. The second prospective device is similar to a breathalyzer, which would measure the BAC level of a driver based upon capering a breath sample. Before this technology can be used in motor vehicles, its accuracy needs to be established and it must be easily adaptable for use all types of vehicles.

Understandably, the DADSS program has faced critical reviews. It has been pointed out in news reports that the program had received over $5 million in funding from Congress. There are concerns that this funding for research was inappropriate as the end result would be something that most people do not want.

The American Beverage Institute, as well as groups representing the restaurant industry are concerned at how these devices will affect their businesses. Will a restaurant customer be less likely to have one drink over the fear that their vehicle will not start. The American Beverage Institute is concerned that development of this technology will mean the end of social drinking as the devices will not be properly calibrated to the legal BAC of 00.8 percent. "It will have to be set lower, because after five drinks, your BAC level is not 0.08 right away. It will increase, and cross the legal threshold while you're driving. The vehicle can't just shut down mid-trip. So, for legal and liability reasons, it will have to be set below 0.08. We believe they will set it around 0.02 or 0.03," a spokesperson said.

Should this driver alcohol detection system become a reality, it's likely that there will be a push for these devices to be installed in every vehicle. First, there are concerns regarding the accuracy of these devices. It's possible that an occasional intoxicated driver may be able to start their vehicle or that a sober driver maybe unable to start their vehicle. Many will consider this to be a minor problem, but there is the potential that it could be dangerous should an emergency situation arise and the vehicle is not able to start.

It's also possible that some drivers will obtain fraudulent results. Also despite the illegally of the action, an intoxicated driver may ask a sober person to provide a breath sample that would allow the vehicle to start. That means law enforcement officers would still be required to conduct patrols for DUI and lawyers would still be needed to provide DUI suspects with a defense in court.

These driver alcohol detection devices would also need to address a situation where a driver initially tested below the legal BAC limit of 0.08, but proceeded to consume alcohol as they were driving. Would these devices continue to monitor BAC levels while the vehicle was in motion? And, if so, would they stop the vehicle or force the driver to pull over?

A number of questions need to be asked and answered before the DADSS should become a reality in our lives.

It is important that your DUI legal situation should be handled by expert professionals with the experience possessed by the attorneys at the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C. Our office offers free consultations for all DUI and criminal matters. Our Arizona DUI attorneys and Arizona criminal lawyers can provide you with the experience and knowledge needed for qualified representation. An experienced Arizona DUI lawyer is vital in DUI cases and our DUI attorneys set that standard. If you're in need of a criminal defense, our Arizona criminal attorneys are ready to assist you.

About the Author

Craig Penrod

Craig W. Penrod was born and raised in Arizona and has practiced criminal defense for over 30 years. Mr. Penrod is a member of the State Bar of Arizona, Maricopa County Bar Association, State of Nevada Bar Association, American Bar Association, American Trial Lawyers Association, Arizona Trial Lawyers Association, Nevada Trial Lawyers Association, Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

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