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Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol? Not if this High-Tech Device is Operational.

Image courtesy of Naypong at
Image courtesy of Naypong at

Development of high-tech equipment named the “Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety” (DADSS) aims to keep potential drunk drivers off the road. In a recent article written on by Tatiana Cirisano, this device will attempt to detect the driver’s blood alcohol content by using breath and touch tests. If the DADSS detects alcohol over the legal limit (.08 percent in all states), the vehicle will shut down and become non-operational. DADSS is a collaborative research partnership between the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS), representing 17 automobile manufacturers, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to assess and develop alcohol-detection technologies to prevent vehicles from being driven when a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) BAC exceeds the legal limit of 0.08 percent. More information about DADSS is available on the NHTSA website.

If this device sounds like a bit of science fiction- think again! Ms. Cisisano goes on to mention in the article that Senator Chuck Schumer (NY) is fully behind this device and wants to appropriate around $48 million dollars in federal funding (over six years) to accelerate the time frame at which the DADSS becomes operational. The Senator said, “Use of sensible technology like DADSS could spare lives and families in the future.”

The DADSS’s development has been ongoing since 2008. Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety are hopeful that with such outspoken support from individuals such as Senator Chuck Schumer (and federal funding) the likelihood of the DADSS becoming functional soon may be attainable.

In this author’s opinion, any device that can decrease the number of drinking and driving causalities and arrests would be beneficial to all. Not even DUI defense lawyers are in favor of drunk driving. Instead, it is our goal to defend those falsely accused, to minimize the consequences of those who have violated the law and to ensure our constitutional rights are not diluted or ignored.

Testing and protocols for a device such as DADSS, however, will need to be in place so as to avoid a “false positive” that can sometimes occur on already developed similar technology currently in use called the Ignition Interlock Device (IID). The IID has be known to render “false positives” when the driver uses a certain mouthwash or consumes medication or certain foods (such as bread) shortly before driving. The IID only checks the breath (not perspiration from touch) of the driver, but “false positives” may certainly occur. Such a situation will cause the car to shut down after several failed tests.

Of course, the next question will be at what level is it appropriate to stop the normal functions of a vehicle? Some persons are impaired at .04% blood alcohol content, while others may not be impaired at .12%, depending on individual tolerances. Nonetheless, an calibrated device that accurately detects the blood alcohol content in a driver would be a useful tool in combatting the national epidemic of drunk driving accidents.


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 lectured at legal seminars in 29 states, the District of Columbia and three foreign countries.

You may contact Steve through his website at or by telephone at (865) 249-7200.

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Steve Oberman

Steve Oberman

Since graduating from the University of Tennessee Law School in 1980, Mr. Oberman has become established as a national authority on the intricacies of DUI defense law. Steve is a former Dean of the National College for DUI Defense, co-author of a national treatise ("Drunk Driving Defense" published by Aspen/Wolters-Kluwer), and author of "DUI: The Crime and Consequences in Tennessee" (published by Thomson-Reuters/West). He has taught thousands of lawyers, judges, and members of the general public about the intricacies of this crime. Steve was selected as a Fulbright Scholar to teach American Criminal Law and American Trial Advocacy at the University of Latvia School of Law in 2019; in 2023 taught for a semester as a visiting professor at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) Faculty of Law in Budapest, Hungary; and as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Ljubljana Faculty of Law in 2024. Steve has also presented at a number of judicial conferences in the United States and Canada as well as for law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Czech Republic Police Academy. As a Tennessee DUI attorney, Mr. Oberman has successfully defended over two thousand clients charged with Driving Under the Influence of alcohol and/or drugs. In 2006, Mr. Oberman became the first DUI lawyer in Tennessee to be recognized by the National College for DUI Defense as a Board Certified Specialist in the area of DUI Defense law.

One Response

  1. Excellent article Steve! While the DADSS system sounds great in theory, and would realistically save lives, I believe there are some MAJOR liability issues here that will delay this technology from going mainstream in North America. It won’t take long before a drunk driver sues the company for not detecting his or her intoxication.

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