Archive for Friday, May 30, 2008

Special breathalyzers seen as boost for vehicle safety

May 30, 2008


On the street

Do you think breathalyzers should be installed in the cars of all DUI offenders?

I think it’s a good idea. I’m for anything that makes the road more safe.

More responses

Should convicted drunken drivers be forced to pass an alcohol breath test before starting their cars? Should everyone?

For more than 20 years, special breathalyzers - hard-wired to a car's ignition to prevent the vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected - have been installed under judicial order in the cars of repeat, or especially egregious, alcohol offenders. But in the past few years, six states have passed laws that require the devices, called ignition interlocks, in the cars of everyone convicted of driving under the influence.

Now, several more states, including California, are considering making interlocks mandatory for all offenders. And a group of automakers has launched a major project with the federal government to develop advanced technologies that could someday make alcohol detectors a standard feature in all cars.

Advocates of interlocks, particularly Mothers Against Drunk Driving, say the devices could reduce the nation's estimated 17,000 annual alcohol-related automotive fatalities and thereby ease the burden that drunken driving places on the nation's criminal justice system.

Critics, led by the American Beverage Institute and lawyers specializing in DUI defense, contend that ignition interlocks aren't as effective as claimed and are a burdensome invasion of privacy. The institute represents restaurants such as Outback Steakhouse and Chili's.

Susan Ferguson, program manager of the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, a five-year, $10-million project funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and automakers including Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Corp., said the research very well could mean alcohol detectors will become a standard option in every car.

To date, Ferguson said, no country has a universal ignition interlock mandate.


geekin_topekan 10 years ago

Have charges been filed in the latest fatal hit and run?Why not enforce the laws we have before we make new ones.Killing a man and getting off scott free or reasonably equivelant is an indication that this is another revenue issue rather than one of safety.In other words,it is cheaper to get drunk and kill a man than it is to install one of these gadgets in your car.A bigger deterrent would be harsh charges of attempted murder if you drive drunk.Lose your license for One year the first time.For life the second time.If you are caught driving drunk again,that would make Two counts of attemted murder.If you are caught driving on suspension make it a mandantory year.Staying within the confines of the law is not that difficult and too much emphasis is put on crimes commited by the poor and mentally ill.This is an area where rich,white and priviledge is no barrier and that is why the laws around it continue to be pussyfooted to the point of redicule.

igby 10 years ago

Greekan: I think you nailed it really well!It's a Branson and Fairchild problem not a weakness in our current laws. Selective application of the law and then they spin it to the public as if it was not their fought.

WHY 10 years ago

I'm fine with this bill if they also require a monitor that shuts the car off if a cell phone is on, or a cheeseburger is being eaten, or if some one goes over the speed limit. Otherwise don't discriminate against casual drinkers while the rest of the careless world continues to run into stuff.

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