A recent USA Today article discusses how technological advances have developed new passive alcohol sensors that may help prevent drunk driving (DUI or DWI). Ignition Interlock Devices have been in general use around the country for years (requiring the driver to blow into the device before starting their vehicle in order to ensure their breath alcohol levels do not exceed the set limits) and are required for many drivers who have been convicted of a DUI or related offense in several states, including Tennessee. Now, however, new technology may provide two new passive methods of detecting alcohol on a potential driver.
One is a passive alcohol sensor that would not require blowing into a tube. The sensor will be able to measure ethanol molecules in exhaled breath. One wonders though how effective it would be in identifying the driver’s breath from the breath of one or more passengers. How will open windows or Convertibles affect the device? Another issue would be how it would prevent a driver from having another (a child perhaps) from sitting in the driver’s seat long enough to start the ignition.
The second method measures alcohol levels in skin tissue as the driver pushes the “Start” (or a similar) button to drive. Researchers are considering methods to thwart someone else pressing the button – perhaps by using fingerprint identification.
These methods, and others, are still years away from becoming accurate enough and cost effective for widespread use, but one day will hopefully curb the dangers of drunk driving.
About the Author: Steven Oberman has been licensed in Tennessee since 1980, and successfully defended over 2,500 DUI defendants. Among the many honors bestowed upon him, Steve served as Dean of the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. (NCDD) and currently serves as chair of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers DUI Committee. Steve was the first lawyer in Tennessee to be Board Certified as a DUI Defense Specialist by the NCDD.
He is the author of DUI: The Crime & Consequences in Tennessee, updated annually since 1991 (Thomson-West), and co-author with Lawrence Taylor of the national treatise, Drunk Driving Defense, 7th edition (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen). Steve has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee Law School since 1993 and has received a number of prestigious awards for his faculty contributions. He is a popular international speaker, having spoken at legal seminars in 29 states, the District of Columbia and three foreign countries.
You may contact Steve through his website at www.tndui.com or by telephone at (865) 249-7200.