In the future, New Jersey criminal defense lawyers could look forward to automobiles that automatically detect the driver's blood alcohol level through breath and touch sensors, preventing people from driving if their levels are at or above the .08 limit.
Last week, a demonstration of an alcohol-detection prototype was held at a Massachusetts lab. The device uses breath and touch sensors to detect blood alcohol levels. The sensors are scattered unobtrusively around the interior of the car, including on the steering wheel and door locks. The sensors automatically detect the blood alcohol level, causing the engine to shut down if the levels are higher than the legally allowed limit.
The sensors are easy to use and convenient, and this could make them more acceptable to motorists. Ignition interlock devices require a driver to blow into the breathalyzer for the device to detect alcohol levels. That requirement is eliminated through this new prototype.
The prototype development is being funded through a $10-million grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety. Although there are questions about how reliable and accurate these devices are, the initiative has been supported by federal agencies, including the US DOT and the NHTSA, as well as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, other advocacy groups and New Jersey DUI lawyers.
Commercial availability of the device is at least eight years away, and federal agencies are likely to shy away from requiring the device on all vehicles. However, the hope is that insurance companies will be impressed enough with a decline in DUI accidents from the use of these devices to offer motorists premium discounts for installing the sensors in their vehicles.