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Ignition interlocks for all in Charleston?

Earlier this month in our Charleston DUI Law Blog, we discussed the shortcomings of breath tests. These police administered blood alcohol content measures do not always give accurate results, leading to DUI arrests of people who are in fact in a safe condition to be driving.

Now, with news that the U.S. government may consider mandating automakers to include alcohol-sensing technology in all cars, some organizations are becoming upset about the unreliability of these DUI technologies.

Federally-funded research is currently taking place to determine whether it is feasible to ask all automakers to include alcohol-sensing technology--a type of ignition interlock--on all cars. Currently in South Carolina, ignition interlock devices are installed only in the vehicles of those who have been convicted of a second or subsequent DUI offense.

The American Beverage Institute has critiqued the proposal to include similar technologies in all cars. The devices will sometimes take inaccurate readings, the organization says, meaning that sober drivers will sometimes be left unable to start their vehicles.

According to the ABI, currently technologies are effective about 99.9 percent of the time--meaning that if every American driver had one, 4,000 American drivers would deal with a malfunction each day.

The government is working to find an interlock technology that is less obtrusive than existing ignition interlock devices. One device being studied is a tissue spectrometry measure, which would utilize a touchpad to detect alcohol in human tissue. Another device relates to distant spectrometry, which is a system of sensors installed in the cabin that would sense a driver's breath each time he or she gets in the car. According to news reports, the sensors would be sophisticated enough to know whether they are measuring the driver's or a passenger's breath.

For now, the results of this research project remain to be seen.

Source: LA Times, "Should future cars curb drunk drivers?" Dan Turner, March 28, 2012

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