From today’s Chicago Tribune:
Starting Monday, just in time for Fourth of July celebrations, Illinois will add a high-tech tweak to its fight against drunken driving: a camera installed near the dashboard of motorists charged with driving under the influence.
Of the estimated 11,000 motorists in the state required to have Breathalyzer ignition interlock devices on their vehicles, more than 3,000 of them are caught each year trying to drive after drinking too much, said Susan McKinney, administrator of the state’s program. The Breathalyzer locks the ignition and stops them.
“We get an inordinate amount of people telling us it wasn’t them (blowing into the Breathalyzer),” McKinney added. “They say it was anybody but me. Now, the technology will allow us not to have to make a judgment call.”
Adding the cameras is the latest step in a movement that may bring even more technology to bear in the fight against drunken driving, a movement quietly gaining momentum even as it draws fire from those who think it would ensnare responsible drinkers and devastate the restaurant industry.
Prototypes in development would measure blood alcohol concentration through a touch pad on the dashboard or steering wheel, or perhaps through sensors that gauge the driver’s breath.
Illinois is far from installing that sophisticated technology, although Secretary of State Jesse White is “very interested” in the devices, spokesman David Druker said.
Motorists arrested on DUI charges can drive only with restrictions that include the ignition device. As of Monday, those restrictions also will require a camera on a visor, roof column or other unobtrusive spot that takes a snapshot when the driver blows into the Breathalyzer to start the car.
The camera activates again when he or she takes a Breathalyzer at random prompts three times an hour while driving.
I posted about this before (Smile while you blow?), and here were my thoughts then:
As you may know, the Illinois Secretary of State requires that most people who have been suspended or revoked in Illinois for one or more DUIs have a BAIID installed on their vehicle as a condition of a driving permit. The BAIID will only allow the individual to start a motor vehicle so long as there is not a BAC reading of 0.025 or higher. This means that a person can have a BAC that is well below the legal limit yet not be able to start his or her vehicle. Because of this, it is quite common for people to find that they are locked out and unable to start their vehicle despite not having consumed alcohol for over 12 hours, and feeling completely sober. When this happens, not only is the person unable to start the car, but he or she will then face repercussions for their “high” BAC, including but not limited to extensions of the suspension, revocation of the driving permit,and impoundment or forfeiture of the vehicle.
Faced with such consequences, it is commonplace for the person in this situation to attempt to claim that someone else was responsible for the BAIID result. Sometimes this is true, sometimes it isn’t. Currently, the person may contest the action of the Secretary of State and request a hearing, at which time he or she can present their evidence. This requires the Secretary of State to weigh the credibility of the witnesses and evidence. A photograph of the actual test will make this determination a lot easier, for both the Secretary of State and motorist involved.