The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety program (DADSS or Big Daddy is watching as opposed to Big Brother is watching) is developing a unique application of technology that holds the potential to stop DUI drivers before they start. The technology will automatically detect when a driver is intoxicated with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08, the legal limit in Georgia, by measuring the ratio of ethanol molecules in the air to carbon dioxide molecules and preventing the car from operating. It will be made available as a safety option in new vehicles such as automatic braking, lane departure warning, and other advanced driver safety technologies. DADSS is a partnership between National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS).
As with any new technology, based on ethanol molecule detection, the potential sources of error that could interfere which such a device are well known. Some examples would be residual mouth alcohol from drinking which can take 10 to 15 minutes to dissipate, mouth wash, and breath mints containing ethanol or sorbitol which have the same or similar molecular structure as ethanol, acetone, miscellaneous volatile substances such as benzene, toluene, xylene, ethyl acetate, and methyl ethyl ketones. Imagine having a beer at lunch and burping during the drive home on the freeway and your car stops or lighting up a cigarette containing either menthol or benzene and your car stops. The mind boggles at the potential liability scenarios. However, as with any technology, the bugs will eventually be worked out and perhaps trade-offs of convenience and privacy will be made to ensure improved road safety. DUI lawyers, prosecutors, police officers, judges, court officials, and DUI school provides entwined in the DUI Industrial Complex should start updating their resumes and acquiring new skills.
-Author: George Creal