Fuel Cells To Catch Drunk Drivers

from the but-will-it-really-work? dept

Some researchers are creating a special fuel cell that may help catch drunk drivers. It’s completely unobtrusive and just measures the quality of the air in the cabin of the car to measure ethanol vapor concentrations to suggest if the driver is drunk. The device then puts out a signal that can be read by any police officers nearby – acting as a “radar gun” for drunk drivers. Now, I have nothing against stopping drunk driving, but this still sounds a bit sketchy. What if the driver is a “designated driver” driving home a bunch of very drunk friends. Won’t the air in the cabin suggest the driver is drunk? The researchers working on the system are also testing it to see if things like hair spray set off false positives.

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Comments on “Fuel Cells To Catch Drunk Drivers”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Probable cause?

Ever heard of unreasonable search? This is the same sort of thing that makes it’s illegal for the cops to use heat sensitive imagery to see if you’re packing weapons. There has to be a probable cause before they can justify a search *of any kind.*

Now, using this for monitoring purposes during a probationary period for a motorist convicted of drunk driving seems reasonable. The courts already support putting an breatalyzer lock on the ignition.

Think about your life. You really can’t even get out of bed in the morning without commiting a crime. Do you really want ALL laws prosecuted ALL the time?

Gary Boone says:

Not a legal issue b/c it'll be a voluntary search

You’re right about searches without cause. Therefore I doubt anyone is thinking about forcing these devices into cars. But they won’t have to. Insurance companies will volunteer us!

You could imagine a 15% break on your insurance if you install one of these devices.

Or supposing the car manufacturers accept it as a basic safety feature:

“Auto EULA: By driving this car, you consent to allow your Intoxicant Impairment Estimate(tm) to be broadcast to appropriate authorities.”

Don’t like it? Don’t drive! Legislatures could simply declare the roads to be alchohol-free zones once this technology becomes cheap and ubiquitous.

It’s not at all clear to me that including these devices is such a bad idea. We already give up many freedoms, such as anonymity, to become licensed to drive cars. Whether we should give up the privacy right to hide alchohol impairement will make an interesting debate.

While none of us likes the intrusion into our privacy, we might be willing to give up the right to have alchohol on our breath in a car in order to almost instantly eliminate the death and mayhem caused by drunk drivers.

To spur the debate, I ask you: How many people are you willing to let die each year as a result of your interest to protect your privacy?

[Okay, it’s a loaded rhetorical question, but it is the counterside to the privacy argument and a legitimate public policy question.]

I suggest that while privacy is fundamental in its importance, let’s keep in mind the balances of our individual rights verses our collective rights and desire to increase the quality and safety of our society.

Dan says:

Re: Not a legal issue b/c it'll be a voluntary sea

If we take your attitude then we will all be wearing tracking braces to prevent us from being kidnapped, bullet proof vests that are required by law to prevent us from being killed by guns, helmets to stop us from falling and hurting our heads. We can save millions of lives by giving up our privacy. But is it worth it?

I think not.

I don’t want the government watching me to make sure I dont stub my toe on the nail sticking out of my floor. I also don’t want the police, who piss me off a lot already, from knowing if my passanger had a drink before I drove him home.

I don’t need this invasion of privacy, as privacy is getting more and more scarc by the moment.

On the other hand, for, say, 30% less in insurance, I’ll probably go for this… Fuckin’ insurance robber-barrons!

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