Automakers Want Cars That Won't Start If You're Drunk

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「Since 2008, a $65 million program has been designing a sophisticated new "ignition interlock" system that would only allows cars to start if it detects that the driver is sober, the Washington Post reports: What's different -- perhaps even revolutionary -- is that the built-in ignition interlock would make an instantaneous and precise reading of every driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) level when the driver attempts to start the vehicle. Eventually, the device could become standard equipment, just like air bags. The device would take BAC samples in one of two ways. A breath-based system would gather a whiff of a driver's ambient breath. A touch-based system would analyze the touch of a driver's finger, perhaps from a vehicle's starter button or the steering wheel....」

So this breath-based system will be checking your breath at all times to see if you are sober or not? What are the chances that it will not be misused or abused to collect data on my breathing habits? For the touch-based system - what if I wanted to use gloves? Or will I be locked out solely because the system can't read my fingerprint biometrics? Could I fool both systems simply by using a friend instead? What are the chances of the false positives that could happen? Either way - This is just restricting us from the control of our own vehicles. This is yet another implementation of control over the people.

「Officials behind the public-private effort to develop the technology -- known as the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) -- say the device will be ready for commercial fleets next year. Virginia's Department of Motor Vehicles became the first state agency to use it in its fleet last year, and a private company, James River Transportation, is road-testing them in its fleet of Ford Flex crossovers.... . Advocates say that if their work is successful, such a device -- which requires understanding complexities involving the science of biology, spectroscopy, electrical engineering, consumer behavior and even politics -- could save an estimated 10,000 lives a year.」

All this research and technology into preventing control of our vehicles - to save just an estimate of 10,000 lives per year? I know I say *just* but mind you - there are hundreds of millions of people that drive vehicles for whatever reason and these assholes want to shove this restriction down on our personal property because of the people that can't properly restrain themselves or use better judgement? Ordinary people may think of this restriction as a good thing - until its too late. Look into the bigger piece of the puzzle and not just the pieces.

「He tells the Post that the interlock devices now available are zero-tolerance -- "if any amount of alcohol is present, they will lock you out" -- and "are very difficult to use... Even people who use them regularly and are experienced in using them typically fail to provide a sufficient breath sample about 30 percent of the time... The other problem with those mouthpieces [besides some drivers seeing them as uncomfortable or intrusive] is they're plastic and you can only use them about five times... And then, the technology has to be recalibrated roughly every year, dependent upon usage. If you use it more, you have to calibrate it more frequently." But with the new devices, "you simply sit in driver's seat and breathe normally. That's all that's required. There is no mouthpiece... We want to make a very precise very accurate measurement within a third of a second."」

Repeating what I said earlier but a little bit more in depth: What about people that work with chemicals such as ethanol/methanol? What if you use alcohol-based products such as mouthwash or hand sanitizer and it triggers false positives? What if I am the designated driver for a group of drunk friends? It would be unacceptable if I couldn't drive them home because of the "zero tolerance" system. You're not drunk but you're fucked either way. If all these issues were somehow addressed and there were no false positives - I still wouldn't like the idea of loss of control anyway.

Some supplementary insightful comments courtesy of Slashdot:

I have never, ever driven drunk. So this technology wouldn't directly impinge upon my personal freedom. Nevertheless I hate the idea. Why? Not because I want to drive drunk, or because I like drunk drivers, but because it places an entirely new control on us. This is the reason I hate CP laws and the banning of child-sized sex dolls despite not being a pedo. It's the reason I hate seat belt laws despite that I would wear one without them. The point isn't that we should have x. The point is that laws banning x always and inevitably expand until there's a broad, active social backlash. Two other examples are book banning in Europe and drug and alcohol laws. A recently proposed US law against child sized sex dolls would have created a whole new category of physical objects illegal to possess. Seatbelt laws created a new category of things police are expected to look at you doing inside the privacy of your car. CP laws created a new category of data the state may inspect, censor, and punish on every computer in the country. What, you won't let us look at your database? You're not a pedo are you? I digress. This technology introduces the active inspection of things inside the car and the idea that it's okay for your car not to start without someone else's permission. It's not the first thing, the first thing was anti-theft. This is the second item on the slope. I'm sure the third will be distracted driving. And on until yet another thing is put on your list of things you have to give a fuck about or lose real freedom. It's not that people should drive drunk, it's that my car belongs to me. And THAT is the real reason car manufacturers like this technology.」
The reason this bothers people is because it violates to the presumption of innocence. You have to prove you're not drunk before you're allowed to drive. What's next - a sensor which detects that you have a valid driver's license on you before the car will start? (There's a small intersection with right-to-repair as well, as the manufacturer is exerting control over how you can use "your" product after you've purchased it from them.) I think the bigger take-away is that no ideological position is absolute - not even presumption of innocence. Reasonable violations are allowable as long as we remain vigilant against a slippery slope progression. e.g. We already require people to prove their age when buying alcohol」
I do not drive drunk or after drinking... but one time I did. My dad and me was out fishing and drinking. He had a stroke and I had to drive him to the hospital even though I had drunk more than a few beers. They were able to save him because I made it in to the hospital in time. Were we live an ambulance takes at least 60min to get here. Now I got him to the hospital in under an hour. I will never get any transportation that will decide for me whether I should drive or not. How many lives will this new life saver cost? How many rapes, assaults and kidnappings will it cause because the car decides you should not be allowed to flee a bad situation?」