Currently in the State of Washington, drinking and driving laws are becoming some of the most stringent in the country. For us and other advocates for victims of drinking and driving, we welcome it. Not everyone is on our side.

There are those who use individual freedom as their justification for lowered drunk driving standards. This extends from the .08 blood-alcohol content (BAC) standard to the obligatory breathalyzer installed into the automobile by the courts for habitual offenders. However, those who have been personally injured or had loved ones who have been killed by a drunk driver will point out the individual rights of victims.

One of these organizations is Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). This organization has been a vocal advocate of radical steps at drunk driving prevention including laws that not only cite the behavior of individuals, but also the bars that serve them. Now they have taken it one step further with the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) research program. A program that will undoubtedly stir a lively push back from the car manufacturers and those in the legal community who choose to defend drunk drivers.

Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS)

The DADDSS program began its research in 2008 as a national effort to develop publicly-acceptable technology that will prevent the illegal operation of a vehicle by a drunk driver.

The $10 million cooperative research project between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS), representing the nation’s leading automakers, is now entering a new phase in which it will move out of the laboratory and onto the road. Researchers expect a drivable test vehicle to be ready within two years.

Researchers say that they are attempting to develop technology that won’t hassle sober drivers, requires no maintenance, and will be precise enough that it stops a driver when their BAC is at or exceeds 0.08.

“This will be lifesaving technology,” believes Rob Strassburger, Vice President of Safety and Harmonization of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

How Does It Work?

Two companies, Autoliv Development AB of Sweden and Takata-TruTouch of Auburn Hills, Michigan, are offering different alternative. Each were awarded $2.25 million to successfully demonstrating a working technology during the proof-of-concept phase. They have the potential for ultimately meeting stringent performance criteria established for DADSS.

Distant Spectrometry– Autoliv is developing a breath-based device, which they say performs a fast, contact free, unobtrusive measurement of the driver’s breath alcohol. It utilizes concentrations of carbon dioxide as a measure of dilution of the driver’s exhaled breath. Multiple sensors placed in the vehicle cabin will allow the system to ensure that the breath sample is from the driver only and not other passengers.

Tissue Spectrometry – Takata-TruTouch is working on a touch-based approach that can measure BAC by shining an infrared light on the user’s skin. A portion of the light scatters several millimeters through the driver’s skin before returning back to the skin’s surface where it is collected by the optical touch pad. This light contains information on the skin’s unique chemical properties, which can be analyzed to determine the driver’s alcohol concentration.

The Court of Public Opinion

The public has been inundated with anti-DUI messages and now at least are aware or the problem. However, nationally, drinking and driving continues to be one of the leading causes of death and injury on America’s roads, claiming a life every 48 minutes. The NHTSA feels that the DADSS devices are a promising new tool to prevent drunk drivers and repeat offenders from getting behind the wheel.

Opinion research indicates that the public is ready for such a device. Research shows that two-thirds of those surveyed considered the use of advanced technology to keep drunk drivers off the roads to be a “good” or “very good” idea. Authorities cite the fact hat there were still nearly 11,000 such fatalities in 2009, nearly one-third of the traffic toll. They estimate that DADSS could prevent an estimated 8,000 drunk driving deaths a year.

Seattle DUI Victims Lawyers

As we recognize that this is a radical approach, if their numbers are correct this could reduce drunk driving fatalities by an amazing 72%. With those kinds of results, the inconvenience is worth the overall effect on society as a whole.

This may prove to reduce the number of roadside shrines that occupy roads across the nation commemorating those lost to drinking and driving. The shrines are also a reminder that the measures as they stand currently are reducing the number of drunk driving deaths slowly, but now that technology has caught up to the need, it is time to not only change policy and force behavior changes.

If you or a loved one are injured or killed in a DUI wreck, it is important that you find legal council as soon as possible to help you through the legal components of the tragedy. Call the DUI Victim’s Attorneys at Phillips Law Firm for a consultation on your legal rights.