Many adults enjoy alcoholic beverages in a totally responsible manner as a routine part of life. However, some people may underestimate their level of intoxication and make the choice to drive after drinking. The driver could face a DUI charge if pulled over by police. There have also been instances where faulty equipment falsely reports intoxication when a driver is actually legally below the limit.
Still, fatal crashes involving an intoxicated driver happen all too often. In New Jersey, alcohol was a factor in 22% of fatal crashes in the past 10 years. Some experts say that the same percentage of people could have been saved just last year if cars contained a passive alcohol sensor. Now, some want these devices installed in all vehicles to prevent both DUI incidents and possible resulting fatalities.
How does it work?
The idea is that a sensor somewhere in the vehicle, possibly the steering wheel, would test the air around a driver to determine whether he or she may have consumed alcohol. If so, the car would either shut down or not start. It would be similar to ignition interlock devices already in use in many vehicles. These allow a driver to take a breath test in order to start his or her car and to keep it running.
If you think this idea sounds far off in the future, it isn’t. One public-private partnership is already testing a sensor that it developed that would do just that. Representatives say that new vehicles could have the sensor, or one like it, by 2025.
As good as this idea sounds, there are a few potential problems. First, a sensor like this is very expensive, meaning anyone who wanted it regardless of whether it was a standard feature on a vehicle may not be able to afford it. However, developers say that the costs would decrease if the sensor became widely available. Second, the sensor might mistakenly test the breath of passengers in the vehicle. Developers are working on that issue as well and are confident they can avoid it.
Of course, it does not help those on the road now. Whether a driver has actually consumed alcohol or not, he or she has the right to defend against a DUI charge. An experienced criminal defense attorney could be invaluable in this situation. The effects of a DUI conviction can be far-reaching and drivers deserve fair treatment from the judicial system.