The Government wants to install alcohol detectors in cars, but is that a good idea?
WASHINGTON — Sen. Charles E. Schumer said Thursday he’ll push for legislation to boost alcohol-detection technology in cars, which he said could greatly reduce drunk driving — especially for repeat offenders.
Basically the idea here is to develop technology that won’t allow a car to start if the driver has a BAC over .08. At first the technology will be voluntary and you can rest assured that the proponents of this bill plan to make this measure mandatory at some point. Senator Schumer goes on to say:
Anybody who’s opposed to this should be ashamed of themselves.
Well Senator Schumer I am opposed to this measure and I am not the least bit ashamed because I have facts that show why this is a bad idea.
1. Installing Alcohol Sensors on Cars Treats Everyone Like a Criminal
This measure is another way of saying, “Prove your innocence before you can drive”. I have blogged about the presumption of guilt in a DUI before and this is another measure that proves my point. Legislators backed by powerful lobbies are pushing through new laws that go against the fiber of civilized society and justice, the presumption of innocence- all for the benefit of private industry, meaning those who make the inhibition devices. There is A LOT of money there if it becomes mandatory. Here you can be perfectly innocent but you have to prove that before you can use your own car. What about false positives? What if the machine malfunctions? Why not just have a police officer follow me around all day to make sure I don’t murder someone? Wouldn’t that reduce the murder rate (unless someone flips out on the cop-stalker)? Why not search all of my grocery bags at the supermarket to make sure I didn’t shoplift? Where do you draw the line?
2. Current “Advanced” Technology is Pretty Crappy
After thousands of Pennsylvania DUI cases and many hours of training on breath testing technology and all forms of analytical chemistry, I have come to the educated and settled conclusion that the technology we currently have that could be placed in a car and is not invasive, but rather is passive, is total garbage. The machines are quirky and are not even specific to ethanol which is drinking alcohol. You can have an illegal BAC level after eating a slice of bread with some forms of testing:
or if your phone rings:
Last week I blogged about how Faulty Machines Lead to 400 DUI Convictions in D.C. Imagine having to drive your wife to the maternity ward or a critically ill next door neighbor to the hospital and the car doesn’t start due to a false positive. It happens more often than you might suspect. On top of that you are asking car manufactures, who keep recalling vehicles due to production faults, to mass produce these devices. Are they capable of doing it right? Who will calibrate them properly?
3. People Will Still Find Ways Around It
People are resourceful and will always find workarounds which will deem these devices in all practical effects useless. Its like when offices use a firewall to try to keep employees off Facebook and YouTube but those who want to will always find a way around it.
In my experience, I see this as a political tactic to appease special interest groups and a way for folks to make A LOT of money. I am of the opinion that laws should be based on hard and most importantly, objective evidence and validated science, not political pressure or profit.
-Justin J. McShane, Esquire, Pennsylvania DUI Attorney
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