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Drunk driving may be prevented by new device

Currently, every state in the union — including Pennsylvania — uses ignition interlock devices as a penalty for an individual convicted of DUI or DWI. The device must be used before the car will start. It is designed to prevent further instances of drunk driving.

The device requires the drier to blow into the machine. If the breath test reveals a blood alcohol concentration higher than a predetermined limit, then the vehicle will not start. Now, a new device has been invented that no longer requires the driver to blow into the tube. When a person gets into the vehicle, the alcohol concentration in the air is measured. If it is higher than the calibrated limit, then the car will not start.

Somehow, the device is able to distinguish between the driver’s exhalations and those of passengers who are allowed to be intoxicated since they are not driving. In the alternative, an infrared light may test the alcohol level under the surface of the driver’s skin when the driver touches a predetermined surface such as the ignition switch, gear shift or steering wheel. It is anticipated that governmental agencies may want to use this new technology either in lieu of, or in addition to, the ignition interlock device.

If the Pennsylvania legislature passes a law adding this to the list of penalties for drunk driving, criminal defense attorneys will likely be ready to challenge the law and the device itself. Keeping abreast of changes in the law, technological advances and other relevant issues is essential in order to provide a client with the best defense possible. It remains to be seen if these devices will withstand judicial scrutiny.

Source: post-gazette.com, “New device can prevent driver from starting a car while drunk“, Jon Schmitz, June 6, 2015

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