One of the most effective ways to prevent drunk driving is the current alcohol-detecting ignition interlock system. This device requires the driver to periodically blow into a tube and prevents the vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected. Colorado DUI law requires interlock devices for most DUI-related driver’s license revocations.
The interlock system is expensive, obtrusive and not always reliable, which is why it is generally only required for persons who have been convicted of an alcohol-related driving offense.
According to MSN Money, research has already been underway since 2008 on the development of two different technologies that could become standard equipment on new vehicles by 2018. The technologies are intended to automatically detect a driver’s BAC (blood alcohol content) by touch or breath analysis without the current blow-tube apparatus. The goal is for the systems to be as accurate, unobtrusive and reliable as possible.
For breath analysis, challenges include designing a device that could distinguish between the breath of a driver and passengers, and one which would work with the windows down or in a convertible. For the touch-based technology, the devices will need to be able to determine if a driver is wearing gloves. While lab results are encouraging, the devices must be able to hold up in the variety of harsh environments that vehicles typically encounter, including wildly different temperatures and weather conditions.