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Mandatory In-Car Breathalyzers Coming

Mandatory In-Car Breathalyzers Coming

Eric Peters
Motorists.org
June 25, 2008

If you’re not a convicted drunk driver, should you still be required to have an in-car breathalyzer fitted (at your expense, ‘natch) to your next new vehicle?

Apparently, some automakers — including GM and Toyota — think so. They and a few others are working together under the auspices of something called the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, which is a $10 million federal “research program” that is trying to develop just such technology for mass introduction a few years from now.

At the moment, the only people who have to deal with (and pay for) in-car Breathalyzers are convicted drunks; the devices are basically ignition locks that prevent the vehicle’s engine from being started until the would-be driver blows into the tube and the system determines he’s not liquored up.

But by 2012 or so, in-car breath sniffers could be standard equipment in every new vehicle sold, force-fed to you by the tag team of Washington, Detroit and, of course, the ever-busy Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

No conviction necessary.

Advocates say the technology under development would be “less intrusive.” Instead of making the driver blow into a little tube like they make you do at those roadside “sobriety checkpoints,” a system of passive alcohol sensors would be fitted to the car that could take a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) reading via a person’s skin — as when your hand touches the shifter or steering wheel. This “quiet” approach is supposed to make us feel better about being pre-convicted and treated like known and duly processed irresponsible drunks every single time we get behind the wheel of a car.

Read Full Article Here

 

Roadside Blood & Urine Testing In Canada

Montreal Gazette
June 25, 2008

Drivers who get behind the wheel while high on drugs will face roadside testing and they could be ordered to surrender urine, blood or saliva samples at the police station under a controversial new law that takes effect one week from today.

Drivers who refuse to comply will be subject to a minimum $1,000 fine – the same penalty for refusing the breathalyzer.

Police will be given their new powers to nab drug-impaired drivers after almost five years of intense debate in Parliament.

The law, passed this year after three failed attempts, has been lauded by law enforcement and other groups who say drug-impaired drivers are escaping unpunished at a time when their numbers are climbing.

“Love it,” said Gregg Thomson, a father from Kanata, Ont., who predicted yesterday the new testing will deter people from driving under the influence of drugs, just as the breathalyzer test produced a drop in drunk driving.

Thomson has been lobbying for a new law since 1999, when his son, Stan, and four of his high school friends were killed when a 17-year-old who had been smoking marijuana attempted a highway pass that led to a pileup.

The crash became a catalyst for the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving to start pushing for changes to the Criminal Code, which outlaws drug-impaired driving, but until now has not included measures that allow police to order a battery of tests.

The new law, however, has sparked warnings about potential court battles from critics who contend demanding bodily fluids is overly intrusive and scientifically unreliable in detecting drug impairment.

“This is going to be challenged left and right,” predicted Murray Mollard, executive director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.

Beginning next Wednesday, drivers suspected of being high will be required to perform physical tests at the side of the road, such as walking a straight line. If they fail, they will be sent to the police station for further testing by a trained “drug recognition expert” and then be forced to give blood, urine, or saliva samples if they flunk the second test as well.

Critics say while there is a measurable link between blood alcohol levels and driving ability, research is lacking to equate drug quantity and impairment.

Another potential problem in testing bodily fluids is that they can detect marijuana smoked several days or months earlier and the effect has worn off.

“This kind of testing doesn’t test for impairment, it tests for past use of a substance and we know with certain substances they stay for a long time,” Mollard said.

 

California Will Try To Ban Driving With Cell Phones

AP
June 26, 2008

Next week California will try to wrest cell phones from the hands of drivers, telling everyone from movie starlets and dot-com millionaires to surfers and soccer moms that conversations behind the wheel must be on a headset.

Several U.S. states and some two dozen countries around the world already have restrictions on mobile phones while driving but now such a law has come to California — where the car is king and much of life is spent on the famously snarled freeways.

Californians interviewed by Reuters mostly supported the law requiring hands-free phones in cars and outlawing cell phones entirely for drivers under 18, which takes effect on Tuesday — though they were puzzled by a loophole that allows seemingly more dangerous text messaging.

Others cast a jaundiced eye on lawmakers, who they blame for failing to build more freeways or public transportation in the face of increasingly gridlocked roads in the nation’s most populous state and say hands-free conversations are no safer.

“I can’t believe that (Californians) will put up with all these nanny, nit-picking laws,” KFI-AM radio talk-show host John Kobylt told Reuters.

“It’s stupid because we’ve gone over about seven different studies and each one of them says it’s the conversation that distracts you, not holding the phone,” he said.

Read Full Article Here

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