Technology has transformed the legal field, giving law-enforcement officers new tools for fighting crime and enabling attorneys to be more efficient and productive. Although technology has tremendous benefits for police officers, prosecutors and defense attorneys, some tech trends are a bit concerning, as they give more power to law enforcement without giving an equal amount of power to those accused of crimes. These technology advancements could have a major impact on DUI statistics.
1. Laser BAC Detection
Currently, police officers use field sobriety tests, breath tests and blood tests to determine if a driver is under the influence. Blood and breath tests are used to determine a driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which measures the percent of alcohol in a person's blood. New technology could eliminate the need for officers to conduct field sobriety tests or collect blood and breath samples, as researchers at the Military University of Technology, located in Poland, have developed a tool that detects high BAC levels from as far as 65 feet away from a vehicle. If this device is approved for use by law enforcement, the number of DUI arrests is likely to rise.
2. Vehicle Sensors
While some researchers are working on better ways to catch drunk drivers, others are working to prevent driving under the influence entirely. In Virginia, one company has been testing a drunk-driver detection system that is attached to the air vent closest to the driver's seat. When the driver gets in the car, the system can detect whether he or she has a BAC level of 0.08% or higher. If the driver has a BAC that exceeds the legal limit, the device allows the vehicle to start but prevents the driver from putting the vehicle into gear. The developers hope to use the device to reduce the number of drivers on the road who are under the influence.
3. Alcohol Monitoring
Some drivers have multiple DUI convictions, calling attention to the need for police and the courts to focus more on prevention than punishment. One way to prevent drivers from committing additional DUI offenses is to require them to participate in continuous alcohol monitoring (CAM). Drivers required to participate in this type of monitoring typically wear a small device that can determine if any alcohol has been consumed. The device does this with transdermal testing, which detects alcohol that is excreted through the skin. The major advantage of using CAM instead of having drivers convicted of DUI take a blood or urine test is that the CAM device is worn at all times. This prevents drivers from timing their drinking so that they can drink without getting a positive test result.
Driving under the influence is a serious problem, but that does not mean police and the courts can use technology to violate a driver's rights. If you were arrested for a DUI in your area, contact a defense attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can review how technology was used in your case and determine if the evidence should be challenged in court.