Mandatory breathalyzers could be in every car in the future if the government’s plan comes to fruition.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is currently working on a plan to put alcohol detection systems in every vehicle. The plan, called Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS), is still in its early stages, and they have not yet decided exactly how it will be implemented.
Some have suggested a system similar to Interlock, the breath system that people are required to install in their cars after they get a DUI. The device prevents the vehicle from starting unless the driver is able to breathe into the device to prove they are not under the influence of alcohol. However, less complicated equipment is being devised, like sensors that test the alcohol level in the breath of the driver as they sit in the driver’s seat or a touch system that would detect alcohol levels through the skin.
This technology will not just be used for DUI cases, though. The NHTSA is actually hoping to implement this in every vehicle on the road. As it wrote in one of its recent reports:
“While government regulations play an important role in ensuring vehicle safety, voluntary approaches to the design and implementation of vehicle safety systems are increasing in importance as vehicle manufacturers deploy safety systems well in advance of, and even in the absence of, government regulations requiring them. This paper provides an overview of regulatory and non-regulatory approaches to vehicle technology development and deployment, and will describe a new, innovative public/private partnership underway to develop an in-vehicle alcohol detection system.”
The report went on to indicate that these devices would be mandatory:
“In recognition that many alcohol-impaired drivers have not been convicted of DWI, an effort is underway to develop advanced invehicle technologies that could be fitted in vehicles of all drivers to measure driver blood alcohol concentration non-invasively. The Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS, a group funded by vehicle manufacturers) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have commenced a 5- year cooperative agreement entitled Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) to explore the feasibility of, and the public policy challenges associated with, widespread use of invehicle alcohol detection technology to prevent alcohol-impaired driving.”
They are calling this technology “non-invasive” but it tests the content of your blood every time you get into your vehicle, which by its very nature is extremely invasive.
As it stands right now, the way the state deals with drunk driving is tyrannical and infringes upon everyone’s rights — even people like myself, who hardly ever drink. Economist Jeffrey Tucker wrote an article on this subject and discussed the problems with the status quo while offering some solutions, as well. In his article, he said:
“Laws against drunk driving have vastly expanded police power and done nothing to stop the practice. The best prevention against unsafe driving from drinking has been provided privately: friends, services offered by bars and restaurants, community interest groups, etc. This is the humane and rational way societies deal with social risks. The police have only messed up this process by adding a coercive element that targets liberty rather than crime.
And we can see where this is heading. Texting is now illegal in most places. So is talking on the phone. Maybe talking itself should be illegal. Some communities are talking about banning eating. All of this is a distraction from the real issue.”
“If our ultimate goals are to reduce driver impairment and maximize highway safety, we should be punishing reckless driving. It shouldn’t matter if it’s caused by alcohol, sleep deprivation, prescription medication, text messaging, or road rage. If lawmakers want to stick it to dangerous drivers who threaten everyone else on the road, they can dial up the civil and criminal liability for reckless driving, especially in cases that result in injury or property damage.
Doing away with the specific charge of drunk driving sounds radical at first blush, but it would put the focus back on impairment, where it belongs. It might repair some of the civil-liberties damage done by the invasive powers the government says it needs to catch and convict drunk drivers. If the offense were reckless driving rather than drunk driving, for example, repeated swerving over the median line would be enough to justify the charge. There would be no need for a cop to jam a needle in your arm alongside a busy highway.
Scrapping the DWI offense in favor of better enforcement of reckless driving laws would also bring some logical consistency to our laws, which treat a driver with a BAC of 0.08 much more harshly than, say, a driver distracted by his kids or a cell phone call, despite similar levels of impairment. The punishable act should be violating road rules or causing an accident, not the factors that led to those offenses. Singling out alcohol impairment for extra punishment isn’t about making the roads safer. It’s about a lingering hostility toward demon rum.”
There is no doubt that drunk driving should be discouraged and that solutions to prevent people from driving drunk should be explored. However, it is entirely possible to do this without violating anyone’s rights in the process.
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