Car Alcohol Detection Bill Moves Forward

A bill to provide research funding to develop passive alcohol detectors as standard equipment for all new vehicles is moving forward with 9 co-sponsors in the US Senate.

These systems, that are still in the research and development stage, would most likely be able to detect alcohol consumption either through the skin, by touching the steering wheel, similar to SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) bracelets.

The goal of anti-drunk driving advocacy groups in supporting this technology is to stop drunk driving before it starts. If a driver is alerted that he may be intoxicated before he drives, he may choose a different means of getting home, or decide to wait until the alcohol is out of his system.

It remains an interesting question as to who pays for these devices? Are they optional, or do they become mandatory safety equipment, like air bags?

And, as we noted before, there are serious questions about how this data would be collected and applied. If a person activates the system, is their own voluntary alcohol sensing data that they added as an expensive option when buying a new car – to be used against them in court?

Beverage industry lobbyists also ask a valid question: what is the level that triggers a warning, or disallows the car to start? The legal limit of .08% BAC? Less?  If you have 2 glasses of wine with dinner, is your car now going to not let you drive home, and alert the police to your condition?

Technology is great when it provides information, in a free society, it is the laws that we agree to, and our own judgement about those laws that should ultimately decide how that information is used. The information should not control us, it must be the other way around.

Via The Hill and the Star Telegram.

About David Matson