MADD Chalks Up Victory On In-Car Breathalyzers

from the prove-you're-sober-first dept

For some time, the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has been promoting the use of in-car technology that will detect the presence of a drunk driver and prevent the car from starting. Heretofore, the technology has been pretty flaky and some studies even suggest that it’s dangerous, but the organization claimed victory when Nissan recently announced that it had incorporated the technology into one of its concept cars. There’s nothing wrong with car buyers (parents of teenagers most likely) wanting to get this feature, but MADD isn’t content to see this as simply an option. The organization is clear that it would like to see this technology become mandatory, like seat belts. Of course, if you accept the logic that we could reduce crime by simply monitoring everyone’s activities, there’s a whole host of invasive technology we could conceivably employ for the betterment of society. What’s particularly absurd about the Nissan technology is that it will work (well, supposedly work) by detecting alcohol in the air, which means that a drunk passenger could prevent the car from starting. So much for the campaign to get more designated drivers. Ultimately, some of the flaws with the existing technology could get worked out, so that it’s effective. Unfortunately, once people feel that these devices work as advertised, politicians will have little reluctance to mandate them.

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Comments on “MADD Chalks Up Victory On In-Car Breathalyzers”

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Jeezus says:

Wait a minute...

Doesn’t this kind of interfere with that whole innocent till proven guilty thing?
I’m OK with this being an option but I am wholly of the opinion that anytime someone says “There ought to be a law” There ought not to be one… Chances are though, that this will eventually be mandated… “for the children” mind you…

Learn Something says:

Re: Re:

Yeah, that’s just one of a few disproved urban legends on how to beat a breathalizer. In short: you can’t no matter how much you try to mark your breath.

The reason being is because the alcohol in the person’s breath is actually coming straight from their lungs. Can’t really throw mouth wash in your lungs now can you?

Mark says:


How accurate is it? How often might it identify a sober person as drunk or a drunk person as sober? Even assuming it’s 100% accurate in that regard, if it simply samples the air near the driver’s head, how does it know that it’s the driver and not a passenger that’s drunk? If it requires breathing into a tube or some such thing to start the car, how does it know that a sober person didn’t start the car and then allow a drunk person to drive it?

robwil (profile) says:

Re: Questions

And then of course is the question of is it really responding to alcohol or something that it just thinks is alcohol? Even ignition interlock devices are subject to this error, and then of course there is the problem of heavy perfumes or aftershave that have alcohol bases and mouthwash and food. It sounds nice on the surface but much more of an infringement that it is a cure for anything. MADD has a good cause going, however their efforts continually suck attention away from other equally serious problems. They suffer from tunnel vision I think.

Anonymous Coward says:

I for one, would like to know what happens to bartenders who others who work in the food/entertainment business when they get off-shift and decide to drive home…. after being around the fumes all night long or worse, having someone spill a beverage on them or having a glass with liquor dropped and spilled all over their shoes and slacks.

Anonymous Coward says:

MADD is run by a bunch of psychotic lunatics that only truly want one thing: the prohibition of alcoholic beverages.

I’m sorry if this is harsh and/or insensitive (cue the sob stories!!!), but it’s the goddamn truth.

Fuck MADD.

Oh, yeah, for the record: it takes me months to work thru a six pack. I can’t stand drunks. 😛

keymjg says:

Someone dies tonight...

NOT! That’s a laugh. Was working the night Candy Lightner, the now founder of MADD who’s daughter was tragically killed by a drunk driver in Orlando Florida that Friday night, in the firehouse that ran on that call, she is nothing more than a mother trying to cope with the loss of her daughter and found a way to express that grief in a constructive and productive way. Don’t be so stupid. All you have to do is read the newspaper on any Sunday in your town and see the devastating effect drinking and driving has on the road that weekend. The sad reality is that that someone might be your mother, maybe your sister who was driving home from shopping when some jerk coming out of happy hour hits her and kills her, and sadly enough because he was so limber from drinking, walks away. Seen it thousands of times. Should you be allowed to drink…yep…till you drop is fine as long as you never get near a car when you do it. People are going to die tonight because of drinking behind the wheel and, like I said, some of them were nothing more then innocent bystanders like your family. Maybe the car might help you to rethink what could be the most stupid thing you’ve ever done in your life, drive drunk and kill someone.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Someone dies tonight...

“So why the hell should I be forced to blow into anything every time I want to use my car that I bought with my money?”

If you stay on your own private property then that’s okay.

If you use your car on public roads, that’s completely different, and you can be forced to blow into something.

I’m not saying I agree with MADD. I’m quite against their stance. However, your logic is not the correct way to go about it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Someone dies tonight...

really? you knew your BAC each and every time you got behind the wheel? i would have taken your word for it had you not thrown the “legally” in there. That’s the major problem with DWI laws, they are based on a mathematical figure that almost nobody can have knowledge of until after they are stopped and tested.

James says:

Re: Someone dies tonight...

You know you’d be correct and more people would agree with you, and perhaps MADD’s, argument if you would simple be reasonable. The problem is, you won’t. You believe ANY drinking voids your ability to drive home. Its that whole zero tolerance mentality that shows ZERO thought and ZERO common sense.

Its just not reality. People like to go out, maybe have a drink with dinner or at a bar; they shouldn’t be hassled for the responsible consumption of alcohol; yes I said responsible, not sloppy drunk.

The persons who need persecuting are the hard core drunks who will drive no matter how much they have had. These people are the problem. Of course, thats the ideal. Thats not how it happens… MADD just says persecute everyone whether it makes any sense or not. This is why they are seen as controversial, mostly irresponsible and hold little credibility with people who have a shred of common sense.

You and your type assume everyone who drinks is drinking to get drunk, because that is what YOU would do if you weren’t a bitter reformed alcoholic. Get your sh*t straight before you open your mouth.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Someone dies tonight...

Should you be allowed to drink…yep…till you drop is fine as long as you never get near a car when you do it.

And just why the hell shouldn’t someone who has been out drinking be allowed to ride home in a car? I think some of you crusaders are just extremist nuts and this is a good example of that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Someone dies tonight...

Ever time I here this crap I just shake my head at the idiocy. You may want to check the statics on traffic fatalities. Tens of thousands die that are stone cold sober. You know what, in the vast majority of traffic accidents everyone involved is sober. But lets not worry about the thousands getting killed. We’ll just demonize this one group of people like they are responsible for all these traffic accidents. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. We’ll leave the sober maniacs out there killing people without consequence. But if they’ve had a beer, well then we’ll throw them in jail for life. Look at their agenda. MADD is a neo-prohibitionist movement and nothing more.

Nasty Old Geezer says:

Re: Compensate

Seriously — I am in favor of automated vehicles for Interstate, suburban, and urban driving. Type in your destination and the on-board computers works out the ideal route with a central traffic contorl system.

Drunks, tailgaters, teenagers who think they are bullet proof race car drivers, serial cell-phone yakkers, blue hairs and nasty old geezers — eliminate all the traffic hazards.

After watching a soccer mom in a four ton SUV with 8 kids juggling a cell phone, DVD player, game schedules, eating a burrito and putting on make-up — I’ll take my chances with a system instead, thanks.

electrostatictommyboy says:

nissan concept

“We’ve placed odor detectors and a sweat sensor on the gear shift Nissan’s car includes a mounted camera that monitors alertness by eye scan. Nissan’s alcohol-detection sensors check odor, sweat and driver awareness, issuing a voice alert from the navigation system and locking up the ignition if necessary. Also keeping a short leash on drivers, car seat belts tighten if drowsiness is detected, while an on-road monitor checks if a car is keeping its lane properly.

This vehicle has other sensors besides the alcohol odor sensor to determine if the driver is drunk or too tired to drive. It’s a great idea!

Peter says:


Even if it saved only one life wouldn’t it be worth it?
People who have a history of infraction should have a monitor. People who don’t violate the law should not be treated like criminals because they could violate the law.

MADD’s efforts are good – death and injury are way down. But they’re like the pollution districts that achieve 95% success at reasonable cost – and then want us to spend $5 billion to get the next 4% and $10 billion more for the next 1/2% because you’ll never get 100%.

Not worth it.

in Denve

Brian says:


The MADD Yentas can get off their lazy, wild driving (in their Minivans) asses and go fight in Iraq. A person is not a citizen and should not have to do a thing if he/she cannot enjoy the full rights, privileges and responsibilities of citizenship. This includes drinking and gambling.

Not, is is not worth it! The road to 1984 is paved in good intentions, rights are rights!

Lewis Salem says:


MADD has done some wonderful things. They put pressure on people to take drunk driving more serious in the 80’s and 90’s. However, I fail to see how anybody will accept in car monitoring systems if they do not have a history of drunk driving.

When is this group going to understand that measures like this, and lowering the BAC level even further turn ordinary citizens into criminals? This does nothing to stop the repeat violators, and the blatant drunk drivers who don’t follow the current laws.

Who’s going to pay for this system? You and I.

Gene (user link) says:

Driving While on Cell Phone Worse Than Driving Whi

“Maneuvering through traffic while talking on the phone increases the likelihood of an accident five-fold and is actually more dangerous than driving drunk, U.S. researchers report.

“That finding held true whether the driver was holding a cell phone or using a hands-free device, the researchers noted.”

MADD needs to be changed to “Mothers Against Distracted Drivers.”

I’m getting real tired of all these groups getting laws and mandates passed that take away MY freedom for THEIR pet cause.

Their reason is always the same, to protect the children or like mentioned above sisters, mothers and daughters. BTW, what about sons, brothers and fathers…on yeah…Men are ones driving drunk (“he was so limber from”)

There shouldn’t be any law that penalized 99% of the people in an attempt to catch 1%. (read the stupid, I have to show my ID when I buy a single package of Sudafed)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Driving While on Cell Phone Worse Than Driving

MADD needs to be changed to “Mothers Against Distracted Drivers.”

While that does sound like a sensible suggestion that will never happen. Ego. Plain and simple. All the different egos in such an organization would clash over their pet causes. They would all be so caught up in their own cause that they would never get along. The anit drunk drivers would clash with the anti cell phone chatters. The anti loud music blasters would clash with the anti speeding people. And I don’t even want to think about how many times, “Think of the children,” would be used. Chaos would reign.

GoblinJuice says:

Re: Re:

Or have a friend / bum / some jerk that needs $5 use it. =D


So, of course, they’ll have to attachment some sort of biometric device to the breathalyzer to “verify” you’re the one blowing it.

And that’ll be circumvented, which will only make the next iteration of the technology more intrusive….

And so on, and so on, and so on….

Just accept the fact that some jackasses will drive drunk.

Stay focused, stay sober, stay alive.

Jeff (user link) says:


Looks like MADD is going the way of the ACLU…if the presence of these devices in all automobiles ever becomes mandatory there’ll be hacks and workarounds available months before the fuckin’ things are ever put on sale. Way to waste peoples time and money, faggot pussy lawyers and the majority of the people they represent are fucking this country up.

Anonymous Coward says:

call me simple but:

whats wrong with a car that requires you to blow in a breathalysers in order for it to start (too much alcohol no start).

that probably wont stop drunk driving but im sure it will make a difference, i know i got busted more than once cause i though i could drive but it turned out i was over the limit.

Mike Brown (user link) says:

How breathalyzers work

> I’m pretty sure most breathalyzers work by measuring the
> amount of CO2 you give off…

Not according to “”:

How do breathalyzers work?

Most breathalyzers use one of three technologies to detect alcohol: a spectrophotometer, a fuel-cell sensor or a semiconductor oxide sensor. Spectrophotometer technology is used in large, table-top breathalyzers often found at police stations. Spectrophotometers work by identifying molecules based on the way they absorb infrared light. The level of ethanol in a sample is singled out and measured, and a subject’s alcohol level can then be determined. does not carry spectrophotometer testers.

Fuel-cell testers, such as the Lifeloc FC series, offer extremely high accuracy and sensitivity, in addition to being handheld and portable. In over 30 US states, roadside evidential testing is now permitted using testers like these. A fuel cell measures alcohol content by creating a chemical reaction that oxidizes the alcohol in the sample and produces an electrical current. The more alcohol that is oxidized, the greater the current. The current is measured to determine the subject’s BAC.

Semiconductor oxide based testers are relatively new and very affordable. The Alcohawk series of testers employ semiconductor oxide technology. An ethanol-specific sensor is used to measure the subject’s BAC.

Nick (profile) says:

MADD will not stop unless by force. Even through the may have made laws tougher and streets safer, their executives will not get paid and their cause will cease to exist and get funding unless the find new ways to to limit freedoms as they relate to alcohol. They really must be stopped, but it will not be possible by political means, since no politician wants to be seen as supporting drunk driving. Anyone have any ideas on how to kill MADD?

Anonymous Coward says:

The Real MADD

MADD is actually just an anti-alcohol organization. If they were really interested in vehicle safety they would target other things that are even more dangerous than drinking like yakking on a phone while driving. But they don’t because those things don’t involve alcohol. Instead, they use “think of the children” tactics, like putting the word “Mothers” in their name, to disguise their agenda. MADD pushes for things like laws that make it illegal for even passengers to drink in vehicles and the nationwide raising of the drinking age from 18 to 21. Old enough to go to war but too young for a beer? That’s MADD.

Anonymous Coward says:

breathalyzers should be BANNED!

sugar such as slurpies,candy bars banannas, koolaid etc set those things off also including pickles etc the list goes on. Those things don’t work at all. Gum also sets them off. They are dangerous when driving. When you have a set time to blow in the device and watch traffic at the same time. It even says in their OWN paper work that they malfunction all the time. They send inocent people to jail . Who ever made these things up probally doesn’t have one in their car. All it is, is a MONEY thing.

vanish738 says:

MADD takes away freedom.

Some of the above comments are absolutely right.All I wanted to do was drink alcohol and these bitches ripped me of my rights. 21+ is absolutely unreasonable, the minimum age for everything should be 18. MADD is like the new prohibition. And 18 to 20 year olds are not even the big cause of drunk driving,MADD probably just payed people to show mass statistics of lower drunk driving deaths since the beginning of the 21+ rule.Its nothing but a fucked up stereotype, (mocks) Oh, all young people are irresponsibe,Oh they can’t function properly till they’re 25, FUCK THAT!!! im 19 and i don’t even wanna get drunk,hangovers suck,all i wanna do is mix drinks,and have fun. MADD should be discontinued permanently,and the drinking age should be dropped to 18,not just in the US but worldwide,Im sure there’s kids over in india where the drinking age is 25 that just wanna have a damn beer or something.

timgolden (profile) says:

install breathalyzers in all (new + old) motor vehicles

U.S. Department of Justice,
Fact: I Told Geico,
“if y’all really want to save lots and lots and lots of money then
1) install speed cameras on all parkways + all expressways
so accidents don’t happen
2) set speed-limiters (in all cars) to 75 mph
3) start pulling the data from all motor vehicles’ black boxes
when accidents do happen
4(e!) install breathalyzers in all (new + old) motor vehicles

timgolden (profile) says:

Q: are you G-D'S friend or foe?

U.S. Department of Justice,
I shall tell you the marks of a friend–
a friend warns…
a friend assists…
a friend comforts…
a friend delivers… — Fo-pen-hing-tsih-king (ch.16)
bro(t)her! to prove THAT you are G-D’S friend
A) receive G-D’S Mail
B) carry G-D’S Mail
C) deliver G-D’S Mail
bro(t)her! now (nunc) you know G-D’S ABCs

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