A breathalyzer in every car

Lawmakers gave some teeth to the state’s DUI laws a couple weeks ago, but nothing like a couple national groups want to do.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and an industry coalition called the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety are developing a DADSS — Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety. Their goal is to equip every passenger vehicle in the country with technology to disable the car if the driver is drunk.
Here in Washington, some drunken drivers can get their licenses back if they install an ignition-locking device. Though you need to blow a .08 blood alcohol level to get busted for DUI, a .025 will keep the car from starting, said Washington State Patrol spokesman Bob Calkins. Once the car is running, there’s a retest within the first 10 minutes, and randomly after that.
For a first offense, you need to keep the interlock device at least one year, at least five years for a second and at least 10 for three or more DUIs.
Cops figure people need to get to work or take their kids to school, even if they’ve been busted for DUI, so they’re better off driving an interlock-equipped car than driving illegally and possibly drunk.
Now, with a bill signed by Gov. Gregoire on March 29, the ignition interlock device must come with a camera so the drunk can’t have somebody else blowing into it. And the drunk must foot the bill for the device, which can be a couple hundred bucks to install and another $50 to $100 a month to rent.
The bill, which passed the House by a 98-0 vote and 49-0 in the Senate, also:
Authorizes police to administer breath or blood tests for felony DUI arrests without the suspect’s consent.
Raises the amount of emergency response costs DUI offenders are liable for from $1,000 to $2,500.
Requires plea agreements and sentences for felony DUI cases to be kept as public records and prevents courts from vacating convictions for felony DUI.
Authorizes courts to order offenders to submit to alcohol monitoring.
Expands DUI laws to cover “huffing.”
I can’t disagree with any of this. If anything, it’s still not stiff enough. I guess if you get drunk and go into the ditch, it’s one thing while causing a wreck that gets somebody killed is another. A lot what you run into is just luck and fate, however.
Suppose you do kill somebody. Another bill this year increased the penalty for vehicular homicide from two to three years in prison to six to eight years. It still doesn’t seem like much for taking a life.
Drunken drivers kill more people in Washington state than all other criminals combined, if you count the drivers themselves. From 2000 to 2010, drunk drivers killed 2,042 people, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. That’s more than the 2,028 people who were the victims of an intentional killing during the same period.
The national groups mentioned earlier, which include most of the world’s auto makers, have spent four years and $10 million preparing to tackle drunk-driving deaths. They look at alcohol detectors as standard safety equipment, and want to put them in every car like airbags and seat belts. They’ve recently completed the proof-of-concept phase and now are beginning two years demonstrating alcohol detection systems. They could begin to be installed in vehicles in eight to 10 years.

People will complain it’s more of the nanny state and Big Brother taking over, but if they do it right, it’s OK by me. Restaurant trade groups want to keep an increase from $10 million to $24 million for the program out of the federal transportation budget. They say DADSS supporters claim the alcohol detectors would be set at .08 BAC, but due to legal, liability and logistical concerns, they would have to be below the legal limit, most likely around .03 to .04 percent.

Then there’s the problem of misreads. If the devices were reliable 99.99966 percent of the time, that would still be more than 4,000 misreadings a day, 4,000 sober people who couldn’t drive their cars, according to Sarah Longwell, managing director of the American Beverage Institute.

19 thoughts on “A breathalyzer in every car

  1. And how do you expect minimum wage earners and seniors to afford to have the cars they own equipped with state-of-the-art breathalyzers? Still OK with you? Typical leftist elitist…..
    It amazes me how you people are always SO ok with advancing the Nanny State, but so down on religion and pushing so hard to eliminate anything moral or religious in the public domain. But if it empowers the State, go for it! Go figure….

  2. I’m disinclined to agree with a breathalyzer in every car mainly because the drunks may turn to undetectable hard drugs for their mind altering ‘fix’ of choice and continue to be a killer behind the wheel.

    The ‘fix’ is to give a straight 20 year to life in prison without early parole to all chemically impaired drivers. Add automatic confiscation of their vehicle and restitution to their victims. The spouse or children of such drunks willing to drive may well keep their drunk off the roadways since they would be adversely affected.

    Why is Kitsap County so willing to add booze to the playing fields and the latest, ice rink, and unwilling to do more than slap the fingertips of the resulting drunk/drugged drivers?

    Drunk drivers seem welcome here – even encouraged to drink.

  3. We should add $3k to the cost of every car to make us honest people deal with more hassles? If they make bad decisions, they should pay, not the rest of the public and this is extremely invasive.

  4. Why stopped there. Why not inbed a tracking device under everyone’s skin, tap their home and cell phones. Why bother with constitutional laws regarding peoples rights, just burn the constitution and consider everyone guilty, toss them in prison without a trial and throw away the key.

    I think Ron Paul was right to be worried, we are turning into a totalitarian country and have become the biggest joke in the world.

    People should be scared to immigrate here and others might want to exit north, east or west and leave this miserable place to those who who feel the need to intrude upon others rights.

    Hitler and Stalin must be laughing in their graves at the US.

  5. I can tell you all right now you do NOT want one of these in your car for any reason. I was convicted of my 2nd DUI in 2008 and have had one of these in my car for 3 years, 2 more to go. I haven’t had a drink since then and am not complaining. The point is that these “devices” are EXTREMELY intrusive and even very dangerous at some times. They are very undependable.The technology could be improved but what happens is (check the laws regarding these) the company that has a device and lobbies the state the best, gets the law to make there device the only legal one. There is no competition and the product is high priced junk. Once again, I’m not looking for sympathy here, only to inform the ignorant. At least I was convicted of a crime and should be grateful to still have the privilege of driving. If you are on the straight and narrow I can assure you you will hate these pieces of junk in your car all the more.

  6. How many think that life is really better in this snowballing era of politically correct laws that make the “big brother” of science fiction no longer a far fetched concept. He will be staring you in the face when you start your car at the beginning of the day. Of course, the younger generation will question: “Better than what?”

    If a life were worth a million dollars, how many lives have been spent due to these politically positive laws and how much of that has been shared to the victims? Where is the correlation between money spent and lives actually saved statistically?

    Just as the state makes big bucks off of gambling, selling cigarettes, and selling alcohol; they are adding laws to make DUI a bigger source of income for the government. Don’t think “Nanny State”, think Shrewd and Expensive Babysitter State.

    Soon these devices will also be able to monitor whether or not we ate our “Soylent Green” for the day.

  7. Stiffer fines and mandatory jail time are all fine and good BUT the jails/prisons are already over crowded, are you willing to have a prison in your neiborhood to house these people?

  8. Since bars and taverns are where the vast majority of DUIs begin their journey, shouldn’t we close down all of these places? Perhaps the State should issue a license that allows a person to drink at a bar or tavern if 1) they do not have a license to drive or 2) they do not have any DUIs OR the person would have to verify they were with a designated driver, who would assume responsibility for the person drinking. The designated driver could not drink or face a felony charge. There would be an online, instantaneous check of the license to ensure the information was current, before a person could be served.

  9. With speeding, why doesn’t the State just mandate that all cars be equiped with the a device that allows the car to only go to 70 MPH?

  10. I work in the interlock industry and while it doesn’t bother me one bit to have more interlocks, and have greater safety on the road, I cannot agree with everyone being required to have a device until the alcohol technology improves. Right now, over 200 food products, as well as menthol cigarettes and any number of incidental sprays, none of which have alcohol, can cause the machines to not be able to turn the car on. Until we have a machine that can tell the difference between drinking alcohol and incidental alcohol, putting a machine in every car would simply be impratical.

  11. I doubt that would ever pass.

    However, if you are popped for DUI all bets are off, first time slam it home – enforce it..I’m OK with that!

  12. Automobile manufacturers invariably favor more safety equipment. There are big profits in forcing everyone, even non-drinkers, to buy a breathalyzer.

  13. Why should all the citizens Suffer,just because some of them choose to drink & Drive? It’s Ridiculous & down right stupid. A waste of money we don’t have in this country!!! “IF IT AIN”T BROKE,Don’t FREAKING FIX IT:… What is it about that statement,That These Freaking Liberals Don’t understand. It works fine the way it is!!! LEAVE IT ALONE!!!

  14. This is a no brainer.
    Just like proving your innocence by drug testing to have a job, breathalyzer use will be strictly voluntary.
    You have every right to refuse, you just can’t drive a car until you “volunteer” to prove your innocence.
    Soon, you may be asked to prove your innocence by “volunteering” to wear a shock collar in order to buy food.

  15. I think it would be a great law to require all these in vehicles. If we can do it for the environment (Emission Control), cant we do it for the children. Heck, we have red-light cameras and toll booths that are more intrusive yet most of the posters on the SUN and those above approve of them. Why don’t they approve of this. Is it the old argument they make against politicians why DUI laws are not more serious. That they drive drunk. Its a no brainer. Curious thought, why hasn’t MADD jumped on this.

  16. I would think that establishments that serve could and should have breathalyzers available…it could help their liability. If people who seemed to overdue checked before they left…they could stay until they were ok to drive.

  17. Another new gadget for a vehicle? You know my Santa Fe came with a cigarette lighter, which would make me think they want me to smoke, but I don’t smoke! Now a BA? No, no thanks. You typical leftist elitists, you can take your nanny state desires and suggestions and shove ’em.

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