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Near-future cars won't let you drive drunk?

There was at one time a public service ad campaign with a memorable tagline: "friends don't let friends drive drunk." In the near future, a car might be a sort of friend to many people by showing them movies, playing favorite songs, checking on traffic and weather reports and by not allowing them to drive while impaired by alcohol.

The Department of Transportation recently showed off its progress in developing technology that will enable automobiles to detect impaired drivers and prevent them from driving the vehicle. High-tech touch pads will reportedly instantly detect the amount of alcohol in a person's system -- and could be part of new cars sold in Denver and across the nation by the end of 2019.

While some will undoubtedly hail the technology as a major step towards eliminating drunken driving, others might see the development as yet another government intrusion in our lives -- especially if the technology is mandated on all vehicles. Automakers have already signed on to helping with the research that they apparently hope will result in optional safety gadgets available by 2020, the New York Times reports.

But it doesn't take much imagination to picture activists pressuring government to require installation of the "largely invisible" devices on all new vehicles.

Some civil liberties advocates might even one day pose a challenge to mandated installation, arguing that the devices require drivers to essentially prove that they are not guilty of DUI offenses before they are given "permission" to drive their own vehicles.

Before that argument gets underway, we would like to remind you that in 2015, it is still possible to make a mistake and drive after having had one too many. In Colorado, the penalties for drunk driving are stiff and getting stiffer (the felony DUI law goes into effect in a matter of weeks). You can go over your legal options with a defense attorney if you face DWAI, DUI (DWI) or other alcohol-related charges.

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