George F. Hildebrandt
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Could Built-in Alcohol-Sensing Technologies Be Coming to All Vehicles?

All drivers know that getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking too much is a bad idea. Many individuals have had the experience of getting into the driver's seat of a car or truck and asking themselves, "Am I good to drive, right now?" Some drivers will attempt to recite the alphabet backwards or walk an imaginary straight line in an attempt to preview their performance if they were to be subject to a field sobriety test. And finally, a decision is made. Most of the time, the individual will choose to drive. But what if a technology was built into vehicles that could tell you whether you were okay to drive before the car is even turned on? That is what several anti-drunk driving groups are proposing, and the idea is gaining traction.

Several groups that advocate for tougher laws regarding drunk driving and the development and implementation of additional safety measures to keep those who are impaired out of vehicles, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), have proposed that devices that prevent drunk drivers operating a vehicle be installed on all cars and trucks throughout the country. The technology that MADD has donated millions of dollars to develop can sense whether a driver is drunk by analyzing their breath or their skin through touch sensors. If the device determines that the potential driver is above the legal limit, the vehicle will not start.

Some drivers have expressed interest in the technology, believing that it would be extremely helpful to have a device that could tell them whether they are over the legal limit. Advocacy groups such as MADD have said that they would like to see the level at which the vehicle will not operate be set even lower. This is because depending on a number of factors, including when the alcohol was consumed, the period of time over which it was consumed, and what and when the person may have eaten, a potential driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) may still be rising, and thus the reading will not accurately reflect the driver's blood alcohol content once he or she is out on the road. A person's blood alcohol level rises gradually after alcohol is consumed, peaks at a certain level, and then gradually fall. The rate at which a person metabolizes alcohol depends on a number of factors, including those just listed. Accordingly, the level reported at the time of testing does not always reflect the blood alcohol level at the time of operation.

It remains to be seen whether this type of technology will be installed in every vehicle around the country. But one thing is certain: The penalties for a DWI in New York can be severe. Not only can a driver convicted of a DWI face fines, jail time, license revocation, and mandatory counseling, but he or she could also face the indirect consequences of a DWI, such as loss of employment. One way to ensure that you aren't ruined by a DWI conviction is to avoid being convicted in the first place. If you have been arrested for a DWI in New York, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced DWI attorney as soon as possible. Contact , an experienced criminal defense attorney with over 30 years of experience.

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