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New Technology that Can Tell When a Motorist is Impaired Being Developed

Each year, automakers heavily promote new features that are included in the most recent models. Often, these technological advances can be enough to convince someone to buy that new car that can parallel park itself or camera that can show a driver what is behind them when they put the car into reverse.

However, a new transportation funding bill recently passed by Congress has devoted millions of dollars toward developing new alcohol detection systems for all new automobiles. The systems are designed to prevent drivers from getting behind the wheel and driving under the influence of alcohol.

The systems could potentially be located in the steering wheel of the vehicle. There would be sensors that could tell how much alcohol was in the driver's bloodstream. Another idea being discussed could be air sensors located in the car, which would check a driver's breath for alcohol concentration. If too much alcohol is detected, the cars would shut off.

While proponents feel that these systems would drastically reduce the amount of people that are arrested for DUI, some are concerned about the blood-alcohol limits that would be used by the systems.

For example, if the cars are set to prohibit operation when a driver's blood-alcohol content hits 0.08, would the limits in place need to be lower? It can take some time before all alcohol is completely absorbed into the bloodstream. Would 0.04 or even 0.02 be the limits programmed into the cars?

If so, this could prevent many people who have a drink with a meal or at an event from being able to start their vehicles, even though the motorist is not impaired. The technology is still a few years from being implemented, but it appears that some type of alcohol-detecting technology will be a standard feature in most new automobiles.

Source: USA Today "Alcohol-sensing technology could become standard in all cars" Larry Copeland, June 29, 2012.

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