If you live in Illinois you may have heard of new legislation to install a camera on the dashboard of all driver's cars who have been charged with a DUI or DWI. The $10 million action is made up of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a coalition of 16 automakers and is named DADSS (Alcohol Detection System for Safety). There hopes are that with this advanced step in technology it will help prevent alcohol-impaired accidents and deaths, save 7,000 lives, and help prevent the nearly annual 10,000 fatalities, while saving $51 billion.
With this new system up and running legislators are hopeful that by installing the camera the guesswork will be removed all together. Nearly a quarter of the 11,000 drivers in Illinois who are required to have "Breathalyzer ignition interlock" devices installed in their automobile in order to operate it are caught trying to drive after consuming alcohol each year. However, with this system installed on the visor or roof, it functions as a verification process. While the driver blows into the Breathalyzer, the camera reacts and takes a snapshot. A compilation of data, including the photo, is then transmitted to the Illinois secretary of state every few months. Information received that shows discrepancy with the law, is followed up with a letter to the motorist, who will then have opportunity to make a formal reply.
A recent report on Wired.com, presents new infrared technology that has been developed to identify inebriation from a far. The infrared thermal scanner deploys algorithmic waves to detect slight facial anomalies in those scanned and compares the data to sober individuals stored in the system. According to the researchers, since blood vessels dilate, it is simple to detect the difference in infrared. The camera also looks for heat signatures and acts as a thermal-imaging camera that shows that drinkers are hotter around their nose and nostrils, and remain much cooler on their forehead, both signs of intoxication.
Unlike the Illinois DADSS program, this unnamed system is still in an infancy stage and needs more testing due to potential errors. There are too many variables that can affect the scan, from human error to equipment and environmental factors. Not to be deterred, however, developers agree that with proper funding and further study, the system could not save time on both sides of the camera and tax-payer money.
Both technologies aren't clear of opposition. Most argue that being scanned without permission or having ones picture taken is a clear violation of privacy, or the ever watchful eye of "Big Brother" expanding its sight. And while this and others arguments remain a hot topic among citizens and lawmakers alike, those who have helped develop and install these proposed and enacted safety measures counter that if you are in public, as with the infrared camera, it isn't illegal to be photographed, even by police. For Illinois residents convicted of drunk driving, the argument is even simpler: if you have been convicted of a DUI, your driving privilege can be legislated, because, after all, driving has always been a privilege and has never been a right.