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Is 'seamless' DUI prevention on horizon?

Every breath you take. Every move you make. Your car will be watching you. At least that’s the hope of some federal safety regulators at work on technology to detect alcohol in a driver’s breath or touch.

The “seamless” technology would apparently disable a vehicle so that it could not be driven if a motorist’s touch or breath revealed a level of alcohol too high for safe operation. The hope of regulators and technology firms involved in developing the system is that it would significantly reduce or even eliminate alcohol-related accidents and DUIs

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration associate administrator for vehicle safety research said the technology is being explored by the federal agency to reduce fatal traffic crashes. While he offered no specifics on how the system would operate, past indications were that researchers are looking at a pair of competing technologies.

Neither system would require active participation by a driver. Previous articles on the subject have noted that one would sample air inside the vehicle for traces of alcohol and prevent the car from being driven if an unacceptable level was detected. The other system would test the driver’s skin via sensors in the steering wheel or other commonly accessed location, again disabling the vehicle if an alcohol threshold is crossed.

Alcohol detection systems are still being developed and tested, though apparently could be ready for roll-out by 2018.

In the here and now, however, there are Denver drivers still facing a host of severe penalties if convicted of DUI. For many of them, facing the criminal justice system's potential penalties without experienced legal counsel at their side is a daunting prospect.  

Source: Automotive News, "Safety regulators working on cars that can detect drunk drivers," Larry P. Vellequette, August 4, 2014

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