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Are Alcohol-Detecting Steering Wheels the Answer?

In recent news:  

Schumer: Steering Wheels Could Stop Drunk Driving

Elmira, NY.  July 23 — In the future, cars may be able to detect — through a driver’s skin — whether he or she is drunk, and prevent the engine from starting.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., was in Elmira on Friday to promote a bill that would fund research of alcohol detection devices that could make such a scenario possible.   Called the ROADS SAFE Act of 2010, or Senate bill 3039, the act would direct the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to spend $60 million over five years to figure out whether it’s possible to make an alcohol-detecting ignition lock that is both reliable and affordable.

"There’s a real chance for a tremendous breakthrough that doesn’t prosecute drunk driving after the act, but prevents it," Schumer said during a news conference with area officials at the Hazlett Building

Schumer said sensors that can detect blood alcohol content could be placed on steering wheels and driver’s seats. He said that technology is already in use in an alcohol-sensing bracelet, such as one worn by actress Lindsay Lohan.

"It detects through sweat that is always coming out of your pores, even when you can’t feel it, the legal limit of alcohol," Schumer said. "And when she was over it, it would go beep beep, and law enforcement would come get her."…  

A prominent DUI attorney from California , Lawrence Taylor (no, not that LT) has observed “[c]lever, except….uh, what about gloves?” Well, I know from experience when I’m on the treadmill at my gym, those heart rate sensors won’t work if I’m wearing workout gloves. So I imagine it’s wouldn’t be too difficult to design steering wheels to detect for whether or not the driver is actually gripping the wheel with her bare hands. Nor does it seem that one could get around this by having someone else hold the wheel while starting, as the wheel could certainly be designed to continuously detect while the vehicle is in operation.

The question remains, however – would this prevent a vehicle from starting when detecting any alcohol at all? Or would it be sensitive to levels (ie, .08)? Its not illegal to drink and drive, after all – but only when one’s ability to drive is impaired by alcohol (or drugs), or one’s blood alcohol level is at or above .08. Is this a “real chance for a tremendous breakthrough,” as Sen. Schumer suggests?  Or is it, as Mr. Taylor asserts, “ a perfect example of the idiocy of MADD’s holy crusade?”

Categories: DUI Defense

Posted By Park Chenaur on August 04, 2010 09:58 am | Permalink 
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