Will Technology Help or Hinder Our Drive Home?


On DUI Central, we often discuss and reiterate the issues we have with the technology used to determine blood alcohol concentration levels. The most reliable method that is currently in use is the standard blood test. Since its creation, scientists have developed various other methods through which they could examine BAC levels, such as through skin sweat and breathalyzers.

Well, what happens when you try to use them together and in the comforts of your own vehicle? The Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) is trying to bring to life their Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) which they hope will just that. Currently, the hope is not to necessarily use both technologies together in a single vehicle, but that both systems are being considered and tested at length.

One system is a breath-based device that analyzes the driver’s exhaled breath to determine concentrations of alcohol and carbon dioxide. Through this analysis, the technology can measure the level of dilution in the exhaled air. In the second system, there is a touch-based mechanism that utilizes a touch pad and infrared lighting. The driver touches the pad and a light will shine directly onto his skin to determine alcohol concentration through the chemical components on the driver’s skin. Both systems allow the vehicle to start, but do not allow it to move if a concentration of 0.08% or higher is determined.

Testing started back in 2008, but as of October 2019, they have conducted a series of human subject testing to determine the accuracy of their systems in controlled environments.

The goal for groups such as MADD is to have the DADSS become a standard safety feature added to all cars. While it is not yet mandated, both the Senate and Congress have previously introduced legislation that require alcohol detection sensors to be used. Perhaps, the legislation would have a stronger foothold on the floor if there was a reliable system in place.

For some people, this new system seems to be a valid way to help stop people from making the mistake of assuming they are capable of driving. However, there are others who are concerned about the increased costs that come with mandating such a system. They also expressed that while safety is an issue, having the security mechanism in all cars could feel like having law enforcement inside your vehicle at all times.

The testing is still ongoing, so we will have to see how things develop. The accuracy of the devices has been called into question, notably whether the systems are accurately taking readings from the driver only and not other passengers in the same vehicle. That’s something that the researchers will have to take into consideration.

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