If you have a history of drunk driving conviction in Virginia, or know someone who does, you may already be familiar with an ignition interlock device. This is an in-vehicle breathalyzer that requires you to provide a breath sample before driving and prevents you from starting the car if your blood alcohol results are above a predetermined benchmark. When discussing IIDs as a preventative measure for drunk driving, proponents frequently give the caveat that they are effective as long as the driver is compliant.
According to ABC 13 News, a new technology called the Driver Alcohol Detection System is currently in development that would not rely on driver compliance to prevent drunk driving. A charter bus company in Virginia is installing the DADSS system on all its vehicles in the interest of gathering data, making it the first time the system is in use under actual road conditions. The Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety hopes to install the system in all new vehicles in the United States by 2024.
DADSS consists of a number of powerful sensors placed in strategic spots on the vehicle interior. Where an ignition interlock device requires you to breathe directly into it, the DADSS sensors are purportedly able to detect and calculate your blood alcohol level as you breathe normally. It would then function similarly to an ignition interlock device to prevent you from starting the vehicle in the presence of excessive blood alcohol concentration.
Despite the enthusiasm of the manufacturers and their partners to install the system universally in the near future, many questions about false positives and changes to state BAC legal limits remain unanswered at this time.
The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.