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Making Your Case With the Help Blood Alcohol Driving Sensors in the Future

Darwyn L. Easley
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Attorney and Counsellor at Law

As a result of the high number of injuries and deaths caused by drunk driving accidents, the federal government has urged the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop a dependable way to reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road. Their solution? A Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS).

The proposed DADSS is basically a sensor built directly into a car that will collect and analyze the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). If the driver’s BAC is above the legal limit, the car will not turn on, thus preventing the drunk driver from being able to cause a potentially fatal accident. There are currently two types of sensors that are being evaluated:

  • Touch Sensor. In order to start the car, drivers will be forced to touch an ignition button that will have the sensor built in. The sensor will then automatically analyze the driver’s BAC by evaluating sweat, skin cells, etc. 
  • Breath Sensor. The breath sensor is a little more complicated, as it would require several passive sensors to gather the BAC of the driver (and only the driver). Much like a breathalyzer test, the sensors will analyze the driver’s blood alcohol content from saliva particles.

Although research and testing is still in the early stages, federal officials are pushing for the technology to be available within the next five years. So what could this mean for a future defense?

Proving Innocence With DADDS

Once this technology is up and running, the federal government believes that it will all but eliminate drunk driving accidents. Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it will eliminate accusations of DUI. However, once the DADDS become mainstream, you may be able to use the technology meant to stop you from driving under the influence in your defense against a DUI charge.

Since the sensors are designed to evaluate your BAC, if an officer pulls you over on suspicion of DUI, you could possibly argue the following:

  • You tested your BAC before you started the vehicle and it was fine.
  • Since the vehicle started, you thought you were ok to drive. Who are you to argue with technology?
  • If you can be charged as a result of a breathalyzer test, then evidence from the sensors should be admissible for defense.
  • Just as you can debate the accuracy of field sobriety tests, you can also debate the accuracy of sensors (especially the breath sensors, as the reading may become contaminated by fellow passengers).

Do Sensors Make Sense?

Do you think mandatory alcohol sensors in vehicles is a good idea? Do you think they’ll decrease the number of accidents, or just create an annoyance for drivers? Let us know your opinion and concerns by leaving a few thoughts in the comment section provided.

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