We have previously written about the increased use of ignition interlock devices here in West Virginia and around the country. All 50 states have some form of IID program for motorists convicted of driving under the influence. And 25 states require the installation of an ignition interlock device even for first-time offenders.
As these devices become more sophisticated and less expensive, some have predicted that IIDs will one day be a standard feature in all new automobiles. In turns out that "one day" might be closer than we think. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently revealed a prototype of a vehicle that could reportedly detect alcohol intoxication without requiring the driver to blow into a tube.
This prototype plan is referred to as the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS). It was designed to be accurate but non-intrusive. Future cars equipped with DADSS would have sensors that measure breath alcohol in the ambient air of the vehicle's cab. Placing the sensors in or near the steering wheel would presumably make it less likely that intoxicated passengers would be detected.
Future vehicles may alternatively or additionally detect alcohol through contact with the driver's skin. Many new cars have push-button ignition systems now instead of turning keys. Sensors in the ignition button could measure blood alcohol through the skin. In both breath tests and touch tests, sensors are detecting and measuring ethanol.
If you are less than happy about the prospect of universal IIDs in cars, the good news is that major changes are at least 5 years away. The technology has to be further developed and perfected before it can come into widespread use. And even then, it often takes safety regulators years to implement new safety rules and regulations.