I once had a neighbor who was a repeat DUI offender who was eventually forced to appear in court. Since he could not drive I drove him and sat in on his court hearing. The judge ruled that he had to pay a hefty fine, and in a few years he could get a provisionary license-but any car he drove had to be equipped with a car breathalyzer.
Ignition Interlock Device
The car breathalyzer, also called an ignition interlock device, requires drivers to give a breath sample prior to starting their cars. If the breathalyzer detects a certain amount of alcohol, the car simply will not start. It’s not cheap. It has to be professionally installed and the driver has to pay for those costs. My neighbor went to treatment and was working very hard to overcome his past mistakes, so the car breathalyzer was a positive though elaborate step in his recovery process.
Interestingly enough there is proposed federal funding for alcohol detection devices to be installed as a new car option within 10 years. There was an article in USA Today last March that talked about the idea and how it might work.
Legislation sponsored by Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Bob Corker (R-TN) would redirect $60 million in highway safety money over five years to a government-industry research project developing a prototype alcohol detection device for cars.
“As long as you are under the legal limit of .08, it will operate seamlessly, and you won’t even know it’s in the vehicle,” says Robert Strassburger, Safety Chief for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. He says the funding would help automakers offer the ignition interlock device as an option in eight to 10 years.
The two technologies being considered would use sensors that detect alcohol when drivers touch a button, perhaps to start the car, or one that can gauge the alcohol on a driver’s breath by testing the air.
“What we’d like to see is it used as much as possible,” says Laura Dean-Mooney, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Although she doesn’t think the devices, which stop drunken drivers from starting their cars, will ever be mandatory, she says the devices could solve much of the problem. “We’ve worked on behavior modification for the last 30 years, but we’re still killing almost 11,000 Americans a year,” she says.
Public opinion according to the article seems to be in favor of the devices, but it’ll be interesting to see what public opinion will be if the systems become mandatory for all new cars.