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United States Technology

An Ignition Interlock In Every Car? 1690

Posted by michael
from the chicken-in-every-pot dept.
ryeguy-nm writes "Monday the New Mexico House of Representatives passed a bill that would require every car sold in the state to have an ignition interlock. This device is essentially a breath analyzer that prevents the car from being started if the driver is drunk. The bill would require that every new car sold be equipped with an ignition interlock by 2008 and every used car by 2009. Ignition interlocks require a breath test, which takes 30 seconds to complete, to start the car as well as random 'rolling retests' to discourage others from taking the test for you. These rolling retests require the driver to take the test as the car is moving. If the driver fails a retest, the horn sounds and the lights flash until the car is turned off. The bill's lead proponent is Dem. Ken Martinez who believes the bill is a quick fix for New Mexico's drunk driving problems. Opponents of the bill argue that it penalizes car dealerships and law abiding citizens who have never driven drunk. The bill makes no mention of who will have to pay for the device, but it will most likely be auto dealers and citizens who have to sell their cars. It seems to me that impinging upon the liberty of an entire state is a little bit too extreme. Perhaps tougher penalties and larger fines for people who actually drive drunk would be a better idea."
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An Ignition Interlock In Every Car?

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  • laws (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ryntis (746177) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:11AM (#8325674)
    it seems if they are going to do something like that, they need to get rid of the laws that can get you a DUI for just sitting in a parked car drunk.. there are so many laws that need fixed all over the country.. i think the federal government needs to force counties and states to do a lawbook housecleaning some year. Then just have a 4 page ballot one year and be done with it all.
    • Re:laws (Score:4, Insightful)

      by swordboy (472941) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:28AM (#8325851) Journal
      Here would be a good law for everyone:

      Ban parking lots at establishments that serve alcohol. With the new blood-alcohol limits, it doesn't take much to put an average human over the limit. Having a parking lot at a bar is like being an accessory to the crime.

      But that would limit government tax income and police revenue. So they certainly couldn't do *that*.
      • Re:laws (Score:5, Insightful)

        by squiggleslash (241428) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:40AM (#8326015) Homepage Journal
        Most restaurants sell alcohol; it would have quite a substantial effect on that industry, they'd either have to stop selling alcohol, and lose customers that way, or stop letting their customers park there, and lose almost all of their customers outside of built-up cities. Most drinkers at restaurants will only have one or two drinks, and most will come with someone else who's capable of being the designated driver anyway.
      • Re:laws - bullshit! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Neurotoxic666 (679255) <{neurotoxic666} {at} {hotmail.com}> on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:58AM (#8326256) Homepage
        Having a parking lot at a bar is like being an accessory to the crime

        You are assuming each and everyone of us are unable to drink alcohol in a moderate way. It is not about the taxes collected from the sales of alcohol, but about our freedom.

        I do not need an idiot senator or a frustrated, clueless individual like yourself to make new laws that require people to respect laws that are already there. The argument is stupid.

        Maybe we could ban the internet too, eh? Making this evil technology available to the public is being accessory to crime, because we know the internet is only used to download music illegaly.

        If you have an alcohol problem and you can't behave in public places, get some help. I'm certainly not willing to give away my rights just because you're a moron.
        • Re:laws - bullshit! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mjprobst (95305) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @10:28AM (#8326539) Homepage Journal
          I think you misunderstand the point of that poster. That person _also_ thought that this is stupid, but he realizes that with the legal limit going so incredibly low all it takes is one drink, plus a poorly calibrated breath tester, to screw someone over. You think that they _won't_ have the car phone home and charge you with something just for even _trying_ to drive?

          I would trust this lots more if I weren't aware of the calibration problems with low-end breath testers, and I doubt the expensive units will be affordable for this purpose.
          • Re:laws - bullshit! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Nurseman (161297) <nurseman@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Thursday February 19, 2004 @10:41AM (#8326705) Homepage Journal
            realizes that with the legal limit going so incredibly low all it takes is one drink, plus a poorly calibrated breath tester

            Actually, for a 200 lb man you would need >4 drinks in a two hour period. A drink is defined as 1 1/2 oz 80% proof booze, or 12oz beer/wine. This assumes a normal person, with a healthty liver.Here is a little tester Breath Wheel [intox.com]
            As for the poorly calibrated breathalyzer, the police must maintaine records of the machine being calibrated. If you are ever stopped, refuse the field test and ask to be taken to an ER for a blood test. Make sure they use soap and water and not an alchol wipe before they draw the blood. This will be the most accurate level.

            • Re:laws - bullshit! (Score:5, Interesting)

              by tdemark (512406) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @11:02AM (#8327055) Homepage
              If you are ever stopped, refuse the field test and ask to be taken to an ER for a blood test.

              If you were in Pennsylvania when this happened, let me be the first to congratulate you on losing your license for 12 months.

              When you receive a PA drivers license, you agree in advance to consent to a breath test if stopped and that you understand that failure to comply will result in 12 month suspension of the license regardless of its outcome.

              - Tony

      • Re:laws (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mini me (132455) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @10:46AM (#8326814)
        I live out of town, but the nearest city to me, not many drinking establishments have parking lots. So it means parking on the street, or in a nearby pay lot.

        As far as I can tell, the government (Ontario) almost encourages drinking and driving. They make no effort to allow people to find out their BAC before getting in the car. Instead of the cops sitting a mile down the road from the bar, how about they stand right outside the bar and check people on the way out. Better yet, make breathalizers even more accessable than that. Every bar should have one, or even personal ones. I think a lot of people end up driving because they think they are okay, but have no way of knowing for sure. Granted they shouldn't drive at all, but that will never happen.

        The other problem is that the affermentioned city, and most other places I've been to, enforce that all cars must be off the streets at 3AM. What better way than to promote drinking and driving? The driver maybe doesn't want to move their car after they had one too many. But they have no choice, or pay the parking fine.

        If government really wanted to stop drinking and driving they could almost eliminate it by making a few small changes. But I think they'd rather have the money come in, and risk a few deaths.
        • Re:laws (Score:5, Informative)

          by Skynyrd (25155) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @11:21AM (#8327337) Homepage
          As far as I can tell, the government (Ontario) almost encourages drinking and driving. They make no effort to allow people to find out their BAC before getting in the car.

          I don't need yet another thing for the government to do for me. If you aren't able to judge your ability to drink, buy a breatalizer.

          Better yet, make breathalizers even more accessable than that.

          You can buy a DOT certified breathalizer for about $100. A DUI in California costs about $10,000 by the time you're done with it. Hmmm. Going to have a drink now and then, don't rely on the govenrnment, do it yourself. You can also buy "go/no-go" strips for less than a dollar. Put one in your mouth and you're over/under depending on the color.

          Sorry, but I hate hearing what the government should "do for us". Arrrrrggggghhhhh!!!!
      • by swschrad (312009) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @11:04AM (#8327093) Homepage Journal
        there should be an initial period in which these de jure (meaning "because we can") laws only apply to the governor and legislators in the particular state. so, for instance, all the big suits in new mexico have to blow into their drunk-o-meters every 15 minutes while driving for a couple years, and then and only then can they remove a sunset clause in the law and apply it to the general public.

        we will need a federal statute to make it happen. write your congresscritter now.
    • Re:laws (Score:5, Insightful)

      by danknight (570145) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:28AM (#8325864)
      Well, I for one think it's a GREAT idea ! Although just maybe they should have a test run or something... all the reps should have them installed in thier own cars for a year or so and then tell us how it worked out.
    • Re:laws (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mattcelt (454751) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:34AM (#8325943)
      I have been a supporter of "Sunset provisions" [lectlaw.com] in laws for a long, long time. It seems to me that most laws should have a mandatory lifetime after which they would have to be renewed, or they would expire.

      Obviously, basic issues (murder, theft, etc.) would be exempt from this sort of thing, but the majority of laws - especially those pertaining to technology - should live their useful life and go away.

      Even better would be a restriction that only the core parts of a bill, not any ancillary additions (i.e., unrelated pork-barrel spending, etc.), which would have to be renewed separately.

      It would mean a lot more work for congresses in the future, but that could be dealt with when the need arises.

      Sunset provisions [tallahassee.com] are a really good idea!!
      • Re:laws (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Boing (111813) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:54AM (#8326220)
        Sunset provisions, are a good idea, but I see no reason to exempt quote-unquote "basic issues" such as murder or theft. It's not like, when the law against murder is up for renewal, there are going to be a lot of people saying "hey, I don't think there's nearly enough murder going on these days". On the other hand, allowing an exemption clause would just open the gates for lawmakers to describe their pet projects as "basic issues".

        "Oh, restricting black people from voting is a basic issue, there's no reason to review that at any point in the future."

        We just don't know what laws we currently have that are going to be deemed acceptable in the future, so why presume that we do in certain situations?

        Also, I wouldn't worry about adding work for congresspeople; either they'll hate the extra work and be discouraged from making needless legislation, or they'll like it because they can reasonably give themselves higher salaries and larger staffs, and we'll still get sunset provisions. It's win-win.

      • Re:laws (Score:5, Insightful)

        by the_mad_poster (640772) <shattoc@adelphia.com> on Thursday February 19, 2004 @10:01AM (#8326297) Homepage Journal

        Obviously, basic issues (murder, theft, etc.) would be exempt from this sort of thing..

        You underestimate what a powerdrunk government that doesn't want to give up that power can do. If you give them ANY loophole, they WILL find dirty, underhanded ways to exploit it. Look at the copyright situation. It's so assbackwards now from what it's supposed to be that the people that originally debated it would probably get sick to their stomachs if they saw how the issue has been butchered. Look at the way we tried to circumvent basic rights in this country by declaring people "enemy combatants" - an inoccuous term that just sprang into existance when convenient to take advantage of the "state of emergency" we're perpetually in. Doing things like that is like saying that the current laws don't work, so we need special ones to take their place. It doesn't matter WHY someone is criminal, if they're a criminal they're a criminal and we already have a setup to deal with them. Why do we need special exceptions for different types of criminals? They're just exploiting loopholes to garner additional power they're not supposed to have.

        You can't trust the government to do the right thing - this country is based on that principle. Why do you think each of the three branches is supposed to keep the others under control? Why do you think the constitution is written in ways that suggest the framers expected the government to get out of hand? It's only natural that it will take every chance to grab more power. There should be NO exceptions. If the law isn't enforced or renewed, it dies - NO EXCEPTIONS.

      • Re:laws (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Custard (587661) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @10:11AM (#8326430) Homepage Journal
        Sunset provisions have their goods and bads... It's good to force a review of a laws, witht he hopes of undoing a particularly bad one, such as the Patriot Act.

        But it also creates uncertainty, in that every time the administration changes, or power in the senate or house shifts parties, all the work done by the previous congress could be reversed through a "review".

        Don't many laws already have sunset provisions?
      • Sunrise, sunset.... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jefu (53450) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @10:55AM (#8326949) Homepage Journal
        Sunset provisions are a great thing. However, predictable timing on them is not so good as it gives the people in favor of the law advance warning that it might expire, so they can go around and find/manufacture reasons to keep it in effect.

        Most especially, think of the effect of having a sunset law for various pieces of the bureaucracy. If Department of Redundancy Department knows that their funding/enabling legislation will expire in the next year, they would then take all their time to find reasons why they are indispensable and ever so valuable. Veritable bulwark of democracy. , they are (or so you'd believe if you listened to them).

        I don't quite know how it should work, but I'd propose having a "Law Lottery". Every year 20 percent of the laws would be picked at random and reviewed (really random!). This means laws would probably be reviewed relatively quickly on average. If the legislature did not vote to retain the law within one month it would be tossed out. The law would need at least a 3/4 positive vote of the legislature (both houses in the case of bicamerality) to remain in place (but no executive approval). A law could continue on an "emergency" basis for one year with a 2/3 majority but would then expire completely. The short time frame is to make it tougher to plan/fund campaigns of special interests to support it.

        If nothing else it would keep our idiot bastard legislators busy enough so they'd not have as much time to meddle in everything else.

        Sadly, it would not work. Someone would rig the lottery. The well funded special interests would pay well to have instant notification of a review and would have lobbyists ready to jump in at a moments notice where the citizens would probably never get notified so would not have an opportunity to speak. (I know, what else is new.) Legislatures would pass hundreds of junk laws just to reduce the probability that real laws would be picked.

        But still, its a fun idea.

    • Re:laws (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ray Radlein (711289) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @10:01AM (#8326292) Homepage
      it seems if they are going to do something like that, they need to get rid of the laws that can get you a DUI for just sitting in a parked car drunk.

      I can hardly wait for the first time some stranded motorist dies up in Mesa country during the winter because he can't start his car to run the heater (either because of a malfunction in the interlock somewhere, or because he took a swig of booze in an effort to stay warm).
      • Re:laws (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LittleGuy (267282) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @11:15AM (#8327261)
        I can hardly wait for the first time some stranded motorist dies up in Mesa country during the winter because he can't start his car to run the heater (either because of a malfunction in the interlock somewhere, or because he took a swig of booze in an effort to stay warm).

        I'm betting more on an accident caused by a distracted driver who has to take a "rolling retest" on a busy highway instead of concentrating on the road. And this, in the midst of banning cell phones (both handheld and not) because they are a distraction.

        Also, to a lesser extent, people who have to take up to and extra 30 seconds to start up a car, but don't have that luxury due to an emergency (hospital, flight out of fear, etc.)
    • Re:laws (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ratamacue (593855) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @11:44AM (#8327638)
      there are so many laws that need fixed all over the country

      You can't rule a nation of innocents. The more laws, the more criminals, and the more power (hence profit) for those who control government.

      There is a very good reason why government has a tendency to expand over time: because it benefits those in power.

  • by Peden (753161) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:12AM (#8325681) Homepage
    ...to taking peoples licence away from them, or basing fines on a percentage of the yearly income, like they do in Finland, people would think twice then. Recently a man was fined about 200.000 Dollars for speeding, he was a CEO, he will definately think twice. How long before someone constructs a hack for this breath analyzer?
    • by Green Light (32766) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:20AM (#8325752) Journal
      Wouldn't a balloon full of air serve as a "hack"?
    • by Sancho (17056) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:44AM (#8326071) Homepage
      "Whatever happened..." indeed.

      From a link [ignition-interlock.com] link further down the page....

      PRODUCT AND DESIGN FEATURES

      Hum Tone: Requires the client to deliver a hum resonance while blowing the alcohol test prior to starting the vehicle. Deters techniques utilized to mimic human breath or to absorb alcohol.


      This is good, if you are concerned about people faking it.


      Random or Fixed Retest: Programmable. The client is alerted and given a grace period to retest after the vehicle is put into the run state. The test can be delivered while operating the vehicle or after pulling off the road. Breath test refusal or failure is recorded and sanctions are imposed, including honking of the car's horn. Deters drinking after completing a sober start and vehicle idling at bars.


      Probably most useful for DUI offenders, not for everyone...but who knows how far this legislation will go?


      Bypass Detect: If a vehicle is started and the breath test is not passed, the horn will begin honking until the vehicle is turned off or a breath test is successfully completed. All events are recorded. Deters hot-wiring and push-starting of vehicles.


      There had better be a small amount of time that the vehicle can be driven before the test but after you start the car. Otherwise, that 30 seconds is going to be a major pain. Not only that, but what if you are fleeing from an attacker? I guess our own personal safety isn't as important as those on the road who might be killed if I end up behind the wheel drunk (which, statistically, the majority of people do not do.)


      Events Log: A built-in memory chip records all events associated with the use or misuse of the device. Reports are generated through a personal computer in a summary and complete hard-copy format.


      Cool.. Now when are these reports read? For DUI offenders, it's presumably fairly often. For everyone else...when? When you get your car inspected? These things had better have a pretty big memory.


      Violations Reset: Programmable. If the predetermined number of violations occurs during a monitoring period, an early inspection is required within three (3) days. Failure to report will result in immobilization of the vehicle. Violations are quickly identified and reported to the jurisdiction.


      Again, most useful with DUI offenders. But honestly, after one violation, I'd think that you'd want inspection.


      Service Reminder Reset: Reminds the client of a scheduled monitoring check. Failure to have the device monitored within the prescribed time period results in the device interlocking.

      Power Interrupt: A dated record, in the event 12 volt power has been disconnected or interrupted. The device maintains memory through an onboard back-up lithium battery. This condition (other than tampering) can occur when a vehicle's battery is disconnected due to repairs or is replaced. Clients are required to provide documentation of repairs.


      Whoa whoa whoa.... So if my battery dies, I'm fucked? No documented repair. This absolutely is only good for DUI offenders, because frankly, it's an unreasonable burden on your average person. I change my own batteries. There are also times when I take the battery off for other reasons. I should just be able to, period. Demanding documentation as to why the battery was removed is simply unacceptable unless there is good cause to believe that I was trying to get around the system.



      Vehicle Restart: In the event of a vehicle stall, the driver has a grace period during which the ignition can be turned off and re-engaged without having to submit an additional breath test.


      This somewhat mitigates the 30 second timer, but it also leads me to believe that that timer is a hard limit, and that this device actually prevents the car from being started until the check has completed. That's scary, to me. 30 seconds is a long time. Get a stopwatch, go outside, sit in your car for 30 seconds. It's an unreasonable imposition for someone who has neither broken the law, nor has a history of alcohol problems.
      • by Kadagan AU (638260) <kadagan AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday February 19, 2004 @10:29AM (#8326560) Journal
        I think there's a point where you need to ask "who really owns your car?" I thought that I owned my car, since I bought it outright with cash. It seems to me they're saying that the government owns your car now. When they're requiring you to document when you remove your battery, that's going way too far. I had a bad alternator once, and my battery died pretty frequently until I figured it out and replaced it. I did all the work myself, and the only documentation I have is the receipt for the alternator. The only reason I saved that is because it's got a life time warranty ;). The car is mine, and while on my private property I should be able to do whatever I like with it. There is no reason that a law should be passed having this great of an affect on so many people, when it's meant to deter a slim minority.
      • by EvlG (24576) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @10:33AM (#8326596)
        Having to retest while the car is in motion seems like something that could cause accidents to me!

        Imagine going down the freeway at 60+mph and having to fiddle around for the tester to keep the car running! Your options are

        1) Take your eyes off the road and concentrate on the test

        2) Don't test, and hav ethe car stall

        Neither of these sound especially safe to me.
  • by R2.0 (532027) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:12AM (#8325688)
    Until I take it out.

    Ignition interlocks are a tool for those who need them. They are monitored strictly under the guidelines of whatever court ordered it. Just throwing them onto cars without the monitoring is simply a waste of time.

    This has been tried before. Anyone remember seat belt interlocks from the early 70's? Didn't think so - that's how long that bright idea lasted.
    • by Tassach (137772) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:28AM (#8325865)
      Until I take it out.
      A few problems with that plan:
      1. It will probably be a crime to disable the device. This could turn a simple speeding ticket into a trip to the pokey.
      2. New Mexico has periodic (annual, IIRC) vehicle safety inspections. If your interlock were disabled, you wouldn't get your inspection sticker and couldn't legally drive your car.
      3. As you mention, interlocks now are used by court order only. This is Constitutional and reasonable. Someone needs to re-educate Mr. Martinez about the Constitution:
        Amendment V

        No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
  • by 3 am Eternal (754358) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:14AM (#8325699) Homepage
    They could have asked for rolling urine samples and performance anxiety would have cleared the roads of cars.
  • by bigattichouse (527527) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:14AM (#8325700) Homepage
    Um, why not install in peoples cars that have had at least one DUI or DWI or whatever?
    • by Bastian (66383) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:32AM (#8325922)
      Because nowadays it's vitally important to make sure that we don't discriminate against the stewheads by unfairly singling them out. In 21st century America everyone is so very equal that DUI offenders can't possibly be any more likely to drink and drive than, say, the leader of your local Prohibition league.
    • by jtheory (626492) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:49AM (#8326136) Homepage Journal
      Um, why not install in peoples cars that have had at least one DUI or DWI or whatever?

      No, that would never work, because the drunks would just find a way to disable or trick the thing. The people most affected by this would be the regular, law-abiding folks who are too scared to try disabling it.

      And wow, is life going to suck for them.

      Think of a family where more than one person shares the same car, i.e., most families. Yeah, I'm gonna want to blow into the same nasty tube as everyone else, including Mom who has a horrible stomach virus at the moment, Grandpa who needs some bridgework done soon because his teeth are kinda disintegrating, and Junior who smokes 3 packs a day of the cheapest cigarettes he can find.

      Don't even try to tell me that tube will be nice and pristing, either. Anyone who's ever played a wind instrument knows there's a lot of spit involved. If everyone has their own mouthpiece, does that mean you have to carry it around with you all day? What do you do when it fell out of your pocket into the urinal, but you have to get home somehow?

      And good lord, what about rental cars?

      Then there are the time issues. 30 seconds before you can start the car seems not too bad on the face of it. Your aren't usually driving accident victims to hospitals, and so on (though of course if you're late for work you're going to be pretty pissed off, just sitting there waiting).

      Now change the situation. It's -10 F outside, and you want to start your car to warm it up, then run back inside. That's right, that remote starter you were so thrilled to get for Christmas is useless now.

      Okay, now imagine your battery's low, and you can't get it started on the first few tries. If you're really lucky, the flaky power will cause some odd behavior in the breath analyser, too!

      Next: what does the thing do when it breaks? When it's molded over from too much spit? Oh, just drive it to a nearby garage. Wait, did I say drive? I meant push. Unless of course it lets you start the car when it malfunctions... in which case I guarantee there are going to be a lot of "malfunctions" that people "didn't notice" so they haven't had their unit fixed.

      </sarcasticRant>

      I applaud the sentiment -- drunk driving is a serious problem and needs continuing efforts to stop it -- but this seriously affects the quality of life for NON-offenders without even significantly helping the problem.
    • by ThisIsFred (705426) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:59AM (#8326275) Journal
      Because as neurotic, overreactive safety-hounds get their way in our societies, legal fixes like this lean more toward prevention (pipe dream or perhaps totalitarian nightmare) than relying on the responsibility of the citizen, or even a good balance. Simply put, making only the DWIs use it means they will be missing potentially dangerous drunks that haven't been caught yet. I'd also say something about rehabilitated drinkers, but this law punishes non-drinkers too, so it's pointless.

      So, once again, our government is pursuing a technology that authorizes the use of some item deemed too dangerous to operate for "us" ignorant subjects. We've already been through this with biometric auth in handguns. Look: A car ignition system is a fairly simple device to understand. All that fancy stuff like a think steering column guard, steel keyhole guard and double-sided key- it just protects two wires. Cross those two wires, and a relay shuts and spins up the starter. There is going to have to be a whole other agency to inspect these vehicles for compliance. It will be prohibitively expensive. The random tests would be more of a distraction than a loud radio and wireless phone combined. It won't be 100% accurate (oops, you used a strong mouthwash this morning?) What's to stop a driver from drinking until he is intoxicated while he is driving around?

      If DUI is such a runaway problem in NM, why don't they:

      1. Put a freeze on liquor licensing for about 10 years.
      2. Raise taxes on alcoholic beverages to...
      3. ...hire more highway police
      4. Suspend licenses for a minimum of 90 days after a DUI arrest
      5. Have police include popular bars and package stores in their routes at night (very effective way to catch drunks in the Northeast).

      I see a lot of huffing about blood alcohol levels, but I've yet to see a study that includes information about where the drunks are coming from. Do they drink at home? Do they drink in a bar? Do they go to a package store and drink while they drive home?
  • no thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deviantonline (542095) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:15AM (#8325710)
    I dont drink and drive so obviously this has no appeal to me.

    We do already have this in Ontario as some sort of punishment for convicted DUI'ers and I think its a great idea for them - but as a non-drinker-and-driver I wouldnt want to deal with the inconvience on a daily basis, and I think I can speak for everyone else who fits that criteria.

  • by karmaflux (148909) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:16AM (#8325715)
    There's NO WAY to blow air into a tube wihout it coming from a human lung. Billows do not exist. And these things are so inexpensive, they can put two or three in each car, to make sure the passengers are sober too!

    Wait, none of that is true.

    What the story doesn't mention is the Special Edition model for bishops and politicians. When they fail a drunk test, a HUD shows up on the windshield and locks on to pedestrians. Makes life a LOT easier, let me tell you.
    • by b0r0din (304712) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:44AM (#8326075)
      This is the dumbest law I've ever seen.
      There are so many implications it's not funny.

      1) Carjacker's paradise. Carjacker now has a good 30 seconds while the person is blowing into a fucking tube.

      2) Disease. What about rental cars? What if a friend wants to drive you home in your car and you're sick. What if you've got Obsessive Compulsive disorder? Did they really think this through?

      3) Emergency. I can't wait until someone sues the state because they couldn't get someone to the hospital because it took them an extra 30 seconds to start the fucking car OR it was life or death and they were drunk. If my kid or wife was dying and I was drunk and I had no other choice, I'd risk it.

      4) People with lung problems can't drive now? What if you have asthma? Does this cause problems? I don't know but I suspect there could be problems.

      They should have much stricter drunk driving laws for DUI offenders, not make breathalizers necessary for every citizen. If that becomes law and I lived there, I'd probably exit the state.
    • by 4of12 (97621) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:57AM (#8326244) Homepage Journal

      Special Edition model for bishops and politicians.

      Here in New Mexico, that's part of the problem.

      Clearly, this is an unwieldy technical solution to a social problem: drunk driving would be cured in a hurry if strict laws were accompanied by adequate funding for the courts, which are way overloaded (letting people off due to technicalities) and by an attitude shift.

      Currently, there is an attitude that "taking away the vehicle of the family breadwinner" would constitute an undue hardship on some individual. Yes, it would. But having that individual kill off some other family's breadwinner constitutes what I would call "an undue hardship" on that other family.

      A lot of these issues have come to a head over the past 10 years or so after a couple of spectacular fatal accidents involving drunk drivers. That, and a newspaper reporter uncovering that one guy was still behind the wheel after being arrested 27 times for DWI.

      [BTW, a similar line of arguments are responsible for New Mexico's high rate of uninsured motorists on the highways. But that's another story.]

      Speaking of politician stories, though, you'll like this one.

      A few years back in New Mexico a member of the state legislature was arrested for DWI. (Not the first time that such an event took place.)

      His defense attorney mounted an effort to get the charges dismissed based on the "human brewery defense". The argument was that food items ingested by the defendant during lunch had started to ferment in his stomach and to produce the alcohol that was certainly observed in the administered tests. [Fortunately, I don't think the defense's story was bought].

  • by SoTuA (683507) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:16AM (#8325716)
    ...after eating apples, or after brushing your teeth and using a mouthwash chaser [beforeyoudrive.com].

    It's idiocy to punish all for the idiocy of few. Why do I have to pay more and be subject to this if I don't drink and drive?

  • But, (Score:5, Funny)

    by deltagreen (522610) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:16AM (#8325721) Homepage
    but, but, what about all those movie scenes where's it the middle of the night, and the woman desperately tries to start her car, while the stalker is running towards her. I'm sure that the 30 second breath test will be the death of large numbers of movie babes...
    • Re:But, (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sancho (17056) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:28AM (#8325863) Homepage
      Also, consider the rolling retest. If they think driving while talking on a cellphone is bad, imagine trying to grab the tube, bring it to your mouth, and then blowing forcefully (enough that some people with low lung capacities can get dizzy and light headed). Cute.

      Although the fact that rolling retests are possible means that it should be possible to let the car start and drive away without a test, but if a test isn't taken within, say, 60 seconds, then the alarms start going off, etc. Solves the "quick getaway" problem, though then we are back to the issue of fumbling with the gear while you're driving.
  • Creative punishment (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kefoo (254567) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:19AM (#8325738)
    Ohio has an interesting way of discouraging drunk driving. Anybody caught driving drunk has to get yellow license plates, so everybody will know they have a DUI.
  • by IamGarageGuy 2 (687655) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:19AM (#8325739) Journal
    First off, this is insanity at a new level. 30 seconds to start your car?!?!!
    The real point is the argument for drunk driving. Now don't get all up in arms hear but listen first. In the US you are innocent until proven guilty. This is one of the first laws that convict a person before he has committed any wrongdoing. I am all for throwing the book at somebody who has maimed or killed another after getting behind the wheel, but when that person has not harmed another and we presume he will that is being guilty before any crime has been committed. If I hold a knife while drunk, does that mean I should be liable for stabbing an innocent bystander before the crime has been committed? Constitution? Liberty? Freedom? They are all thrown out the window in the fight against that evildoer known as the drunk driver. I should note that I do not drive after drinking, not because of the law but because I am a responsible person who believes I should be responsible for my own actions.

    START THE FLAMES !!!!!!
  • by zzyzx (15139) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:19AM (#8325740) Homepage
    So I'm driving in the snow trying to make a difficult manuver when I suddenly have to take my eyes off of the road, find this hand held device (a photo of one of these interlocks is here [ignition-interlock.com]), breathe into it, and if I don't the horn will start going off. Explain to me again how this bill promotes safety.
    • by Smallpond (221300) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:32AM (#8325911) Homepage Journal
      You're right. It should do periodic test of your ability to focus by playing the sound of a baby crying in the back seat and checking that your steering doesn't become erratic.

      There should also be a periodic eye exam for older drivers where an eye chart drops down in front of the driver and they have to read off the bottom row.

      Its clearly the auto makers who are at fault in every accident by letting unqualified drivers operate their cars.
  • by Washizu (220337) <bengarvey@NOspam.comcast.net> on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:19AM (#8325745) Homepage
    "No officer, she wasn't taking my breathalyzer for me. She was just giving me road head."

  • by Botchka (589180) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:21AM (#8325757)
    I am going through something similar. I've just purchased a used car and in order to get any type of financing, they are installing a device on the car called "Pass Time". Basically this device gets installed between my key and the ignition and emits a friendly chime when I turn the key to on. After the friendly chime, I can start my car. This may sound innocuous enough, but in order to start my car, I have to punch in a six digit code every month in order to start my car. When I make the payment, I get the six digit code and I can use the car I pay for for 30 days. Oh but they are so sweet.....I get a 9 day grace period after the due date when the friendly chime beeps a little longer. After that, the car is dead as a door nail until I make a payment and get the six digit code. Nich huh? And it's not being installed because I have crappy credit.....no...it's being installed because I've only been in this area for 9 months as opposed to 2 years! It's an outrage and I feel less than human. I've NEVER been late on a car payment and I show 5 paid off car loans in my lifetime. You may say that we could have walked (which I almost did) or gone elsewhere, but we tried. This was pretty much the only way for my wife and I to get a loan for a frickin USED car.
  • by CaptainAlbert (162776) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:21AM (#8325765) Homepage
    While we're at it, can we have a device which detects whether slashdot readers are on crack and refuses to give them mod points if they are?
  • by KarmaOverDogma (681451) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:22AM (#8325769) Homepage Journal
    Good intentions.

    on it's razor thin surface surface this looks just good enough to attract legislators attention.

    Until we see all the various problems that will occur later:

    1) the device gets removed by a smart enough technician
    2) people use ballons with "sober air" to defeat the system
    3) All state drivers get charged for a device that presumes guilt (constitution, anyone?)
    4) repeat offenders still kill
    5) out of state rentals are used and someone gets injured/permanently disabled/killed from a drunk driver in one
    6) insert your "I've just lost more rights" scenario here.

    I've always felt that if you put enough monkeys into the statehouse they could end up making laws that may actually do some good (just like the joke that enough monkeys in front of a typewriter could make a work as good as shakepeare).

    .
  • Part of the Problem (Score:5, Informative)

    by vjmurphy (190266) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:22AM (#8325784) Homepage
    I lived on or around the Navajo reservation for a long time while growing up in New Mexico. Part of the problem for communities in those areas is that alchohol was not allowed to be sold on the reservation. So, every Friday and Saturday, you had a great number of people hopping into their cars and trucks, making the 30-70 mile trek to the closest bar/liquor store.

    Then those people would drink and drive that 30-70 miles back to the reservation. Trust me, you did NOT want to be on those roads at night those days.

    I'm not sure this plan will help that situation at all: generally, when one is drunk and weaving in and out of the lane, having the horn and headlines turn on and off probably isn't going to stop you at that point. And on the reservation, at least, you won't be seeing that many cops on the road.

    Perhaps a lot has changed since I left (I know, for example, that drive through liquor stores are no longer allowed). But I do know that there is no quick fix for the problems of drunk driving in New Mexico.
    • by Big Bob the Finder (714285) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:42AM (#8326043) Homepage Journal
      When I moved to New Mexico in 1994, I had to take a special course (as did all immigrants to the state), which was very anti-drunk driving. I remember being in the room with a bunch of very pissed-off people, as the angle was that the state's drunk driving problem was the fault of people moving into the state; if memory serves, the class wasn't required of residents that were getting their DL for the first time. It was just stupid.

      I spent several years as a firefighter in the state, with a fire department that covered >25 miles of interstate. Lots of drunk drivers piled it in over that time on that stretch of road, but the problem was much worse once you got off the interstate. The drive-up liquor windows went away, yes- but I think the only effect that had was on my roommate at the time, who was bound to a wheelchair and found it much more convenient to pick up a couple of beers on the weekend via the drive-ups.

      New Mexico has a long way to go in terms of bringing itself to the modern day. Enforcement is also a big issue; in the areas where the police AREN'T corrupt, they're usually so sparsely placed that they simply can't cover it. Catron County is something like 3x the size of Rhode Island, and has only two state police officers to cover the entire area at any given time. It's amazing.

  • by kcurtis (311610) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:24AM (#8325805)
    I suffer an attack and hop in my car to go to the doctor, or to get an inhaler at the pharmacy. Or I'm driving down the road and have an attack, and the stupid horn/lights thing goes off.

    Or I'm camping, and not near phones.

    Oh, wait. Sorry. Can't blow enough air? That's ok, because the state is small and there aren't long stretches of desert or open roads.

    Or not.

    Then there is the issueof people with emphysema or other permanent breathing diseases/disorders? Guess they'll have to fork over money for exemptions, and paying for disabling the device.
  • Bad idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Steffan (126616) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:27AM (#8325843)
    I think any law which places a burden on many citizens to police the actions of a few is misguided and sets a bad precedent. In addition to viewing the entire state population as 'guilty until proven innocent', it imposes the burden of the change upon the people. The article mentions a 'tax credit' to be given to car owners converting their vehicles, but makes no mention of low-income residents who might not be able to pay for the device and then wait for a refund.

    Of course, the first thing most people will do to avoid the inconvenience is disable the system. Therefore this law will inevitably be followed by yet more legislation to make disabling the system illegal, to make selling any device for disabling the system illegal, and probably, to even criminalize the mere dissemination of information on how to perform such modifications. Oh, and of course, an agency would have to supervise the installation of such devices, with 'authorized dealers','inspection stations', and certification, adding another layer of bureaucracy and expense to this ill-advised undertaking.

    If you live in NM, please take the time to phone or fax your representative and voice your opinion. A law like this is the first step to a police state with presumptive-guilt laws.
  • by jpellino (202698) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:27AM (#8325844)
    You want me to sit in one place in my car for a half a minute every time I start it?
    Even if it stalls at a light?
    Even if I'm being chased by pirates?
    Even at the gas pump?

    You want me to take a breathalyzer test while underway?
    You've seen the all-out exertion needed on an admissable, accurate police test - you mean like that, while underway?
    I'm not supposed to be using a cell phone underway, but you want me to have to stop what I'm doing and use this?
    And if I fail, I'm drunk, and I'll do something real brilliant and try and outdrive my own flashing lights and honking horn (y'all watch "COPS", right?)
    And if I was going to fail, wasn't I already too close impaired to drive and take the test long before the test randomly popped up on the dash?

    How does stuff like this get to "bill" status...
  • But does it WORK? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DoctorNathaniel (459436) <nathaniel.tagg@g m a i l.com> on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:27AM (#8325845) Homepage
    Canadian-born, I'm often a political pragmatist. My first question is not "does it intefere with people's rights" but "is the interference beneficial"?

    Are these tests easy to fool? I can imagine keeping a can of compressed air handy. Can they be easily disabled? How often will the car start even if the driver is drunk? What about variability for body size?

    More importantly: will having such a device actually prevent people from driving drunk? If a drunk person IS driving a car started by someone else, is it really a good idea to have the lights and horn start going off on him suddenly? How the hell do you take the breath test _while you're driving_ for heaven's sake?

    To sum up: has a pilot project been done? What quantifiable success did it have?
  • by G4from128k (686170) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:28AM (#8325856)
    The bill makes no mention of who will have to pay for the device, but it will most likely be auto dealers and citizens who have to sell their cars.

    Car sellers will not "pay" for this device, car buyers will. If it costs $200 to add the device, you can be sure that car prices with rise $200 in New Mexico. This is the same logic that has government paying for things, when it is really the taxpayer that pays. Businesses, like governments, pass their spending on to customers and taxpayers respectively.

    The only exception is if a business faces competition that does not have to install this gizmo. So we can expect to see some booming car sales on the borders near New Mexico.

    People really need to stop looking at businesses and government as big money machines. These organizations may have lots of money, but they got it from someplace else.
  • by duffbeer703 (177751) * on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:28AM (#8325867)
    Why don't these people just get over themselves and go for prohibition again?

    Drunk driving, while obviously a bad thing, is probaly the single most blown out of proportion issue in the United States.

    If you actually get your hands on a study proclaiming that 70% (or whatever unrealistically high percentage) of crashes are "alcohol-related", look at the methodology. Crashes where the driver was perfectly fine, but a passenger had A DRINK were considered "alcohol-related"... as was a closed case of beer in the trunk.

    Traffic statistics are among the most abused and oft cited. The folks who sell highway signs claim that 60% of accidents are caused by bad signage; police unions say that speedng causes up to 75% of crashes.
    • by HeghmoH (13204) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:58AM (#8326266) Homepage Journal
      No, terrorism is the most overblown out of proportion issue in the US.

      Imagine, total invasion of privacy, random searches, mandatory ID checks, and a large hit on our right to travel, all to counteract something that has killed about 3,000 people in the US in the past five or so years, and has killed exactly zero people in the US in the past two years.

      Drunk driving comes in pretty badly, though, I must admit. As does child pornography, AIDS, and lots of other things. Come to think of it, every single issue that people have used as an excuse to eliminate our rights is completely overblown. What an incredible coincidence.
  • by frankthechicken (607647) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @09:30AM (#8325891) Journal
    I've often wanted and required one of these placed on my mobile phone, simply for those post drinking sessions moments when it seems like an ideal moment to call my ex.

    It would certainly prevent those next day conversations when she calls you up wondering exactly what you were trying to say/sing on her answering machine.
  • by galego (110613) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (tccarehtosnsj)> on Thursday February 19, 2004 @10:03AM (#8326320)
    Engineering Design done by a legislature:

    These rolling retests require the driver to take the test as the car is moving. If the driver fails a retest, the horn sounds and the lights flash until the car is turned off.

    I mean ... I'm all for reducing drunk-driving, but they obviously haven't considered the full impact of this. Just a few human factors/reality issues:

    • Carmakers sued because someone couldn't get someone else/self to help in time due to an emergency situation and the person died ... since the driver had to do a breathe test. I'm not saying it's likely ... but hey, Coffee cups now have warning labels about hot contents don't they?
    • Teenagers: "Let's all go caravan in our cars (or parents' cars) and nobody do their rolling retest" ... and purposely drive around annoying everyone (but I'm sure some law will cover that too, right?)
    • Breath tester thingamajig malfunctions and shuts car won't start/starts tooting and winking at random internvals
    • General American Populus becomes more grumpy in the AM because they are delayed 30 more seconds by breathe test.

    And then the funny/unrealistic (but still possible ones)

    • System mistakes unbrushed teeth/bad breath for drunkenness and sends driver home for hygiene maintenance
    • Police cars winking and honking while driving down the street.
    • Police (or Keystone cop) car won't start for 30 seconds while criminal speeds away (who has bypassed his system anyway). They shouldn't be 'above the system, no?
    • Beneficial one here ... system becomes new alternative to 'jump-starting your car'
    • New Bumper Stickers: "Stop Breathing, Start Driving"
  • by Julian Morrison (5575) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @10:12AM (#8326438)
    ...when their engine craps out on the freeway, or their car starts honking and flashing lights, startling all the other drivers. When they can't get the car started in an emergency. When it strands people in inclement weather, or in the middle of the desert. When a bug in the code sets it off without warning, or locks up and refuses to recognise a good test.

    Maybe when those damn idiot legislators see the death toll, they'll learn that it takes a human to make a judgement call.
  • by martin (1336) <maxsec@@@gmail...com> on Thursday February 19, 2004 @10:14AM (#8326456) Journal
    have worked well on the population of the UK.

    Very graphic adverts showing the results of drink driving have had a large impact.

    Of course there is still the hard core of abusers who still instist on DD, but they 'tend' to be above 40 where they didn't have this hammered in from a early age.

    It's become socially unacceptable to DD over here, although of course people still do..

    Tough laws along with this have helped as well.

    Using technology for the sake of it will only make a black market in getting around the device.

    Increased policing on the issue had gone someway as the 'named driver' getting cheap/free soft drinks in some areas around various hi-days and holidays.

    I think making it socially unacceptable is the key, this takes time and education, and of course the tax payer has to pay for this education.
  • by Tsu-na-mi (88576) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @11:19AM (#8327313) Homepage
    My dad got stopped for speeding (and subsequently DWI) in 1990 and as part of a Pennsylvania first-time offenders program he paid a fine, did time in AA meetings, and had one of these installed in his car. By doing so he avoided the mandatory 48 hours jail time and loss of license.

    It cost around $2500 to install, and he had to keep it in the car for a year. You had to blow in a pattern, and the thing was fussy as hell. Like blow for 5 seconds, stop, blow for 2 seconds, stop, blow for 2 seconds and pray you did it close enough. Don't blow too hard, or too softly. It was easy to screw it up and have to redo it. It was right around then that I started to drive, so I got the old car and my mom started driving the car with the interlock on it. She had a hell of a time getting it to work under normal conditions. On more than one occasion she failed the 3 times and was stuck waiting 30 minutes for the lock to time out.

    Maybe the technology on these has improved in the last 14 years, but I'd bet they're just as fussy as they ever were. Bad idea, too expensive, and why are we punishing 100% of the citizens for something .08% or less of them do? I'm all for whoever suggested the politicians all 'test' this idea for a year to see how it goes before enacting it as law.

  • by Uksi (68751) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @11:33AM (#8327501) Homepage
    If MADD had their way, they'd have a detector that if you touched a bottle of alcohol in the last two hours, you'd get a ticket for attempting to start your car. You think I'm kidding, but with an ignition interlock and the ever-falling BAC levels, it may just happen. (Do everyone a favor and read why MADD is mad [www.ridl.us].).

    BTW, unlike MADD or a rambling lunatic, I'm going to back up every claim with a link.

    MADD (and NHTSA) grossly overexaggerate [motorists.org] their claims [madd.org] of "drunk driving accidents," which are really alcohol-related accidents (a misleading statistic used by NHTSA [dot.gov]). Did you know that if you, while 100% sober, hit a drunk pedestrian, it counts as an alcohol-related accident? Or did you know that if you get in an accident and EVERYONE is sober (driver, pedestrian, passengers), you can still be counted as alcohol-related due to the statistical correction [dot.gov] that NHTSA uses, since only 63% of drivers [dot.gov] are tested for their BAC level!

    MADD claims that 0.08 BAC reduction saves lives, yet a study by NHTSA found no proof of such reduction [dot.gov] after North Carolina enacted the lower BAC limit: "There appears to have been little clear effect of the lower BAC limit in North Carolina. Survey data indicate that the general public believes the new law was well-publicized. Although awareness of the new lower limit was not particularly high nearly 18 months after the law took effect, frequent drinkers did evidence a substantial degree of awareness that the law had changed and about what the new BAC limit was. As is typical in North Carolina, enforcement of the lower limit was vigorous and strict."

    MADD wants to lower the BAC limit lower and lower, to 0.05. It claims victory over the 0.08 law over the previous 0.10 standard. However, it has been found [uiowa.edu] that "the relative risk [of being in a traffic accident while using a cell-phone] is similar to the hazard associated with driving with a blood alcohol level at the legal limit." The legal limit in that paper was 0.10 BAC. Another interesting note is that "These data also call into question driving regulations that prohibit handheld cell-phones and permit hands-free cell-phones, because no significant differences in the impairments caused by these two cellular devices were found.", but that's another topic of conversation.

    Point is, why do they want to keep lowering the BAC when it has been shown that the vast majority [dot.gov] of drunk driving accidents occurs with drivers with over 0.10 BAC, and that below that, it's as risky as using a cell phone? Why is MADD targeting low-BAC-level drivers, such as 0.08 (and as they hope 0.05), with huge fines, property confiscation, loss of driver license, and obscene insurance surcharges? MADD wants to bully states [www.ridl.us] into the 0.08 BAC law by passing legislation that threatens their funding.

    Furthermore, when NHTSA's accident data was loaded in a database and independent statistics [www.ridl.us] were ran on it, the massive exaggerations were exposed. Quote from the previous link: "Through the use of this tool we were able to discover that across the entire country NHTSA nearly doubles the number of instances of drunk drivers. And this is prior to them implementing their "Multiple Imputation" methodology w

  • by pclminion (145572) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @11:52AM (#8327726)
    Deadly scenario 1: You're driving down a city street, perfectly legitimately. Your car buzzer sounds. It's now time to prove to your own property that you have the right to use it. You reach down for the breath tube, taking your eyes off the road. At this moment, a four year old runs into your path. You splatter her all over the asphalt because you were distracted by having to blow into a fucking tube in order to keep your car working.

    Deadly scenario 2: You're parked at a rest stop. A runaway truck comes careening into the parking lot, hurtling straight toward your car. You need to start your car and drive out of the way before he gets there. Too bad, it takes 30 seconds to start your car because you need to blow into a fucking tube. You get splattered all over the inside of your car.

    Deadly scenario 3: A cranked up carjacker jumps into your passenger seat in the Costco parking lot and holds you at gunpoint. You take off down the road. Suddenly your car starts honking the horn and flashing its lights. His mind clouded by being awake for the past 72 hours, and panicking because of the lights and horn drawing attention, the carjacker blows your head off and takes off on foot.

    I could list reasons why this is idiotic all day long.

  • by GMFTatsujin (239569) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @02:10PM (#8329766) Homepage
    Have you ever been unable to start your car because of an asthma attack?

    Ever had your car refuse to start because your breath was Listerine fresh?

    Ever debated borrowing a friend's car because they had the flu/herpes/cold sores?

    You will -- and the New Mexico legislature will bring it to you.
  • by tres3 (594716) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @02:53PM (#8330565) Homepage
    My Brother had one of these things installed in his car as the result of a DUI. It was either get the device or not drive. But I recently had the misfortune of borrowing his car while mine was being repaired. Not only did my brother feel the need to give me a thirty minute lecture on the device but I'm glad that he did. I never drink and drive but I failed this device on more than one occasion. If you have a dry mouth - from jogging, taking allergy medication, not drinking anything in the last hour - the device will fail. It assumes that you are using some other source for air besides a person (like a balloon). It asks you to blow in the device while you are driving down the road and his particular model shuts the car off. It does give you warning that the car is going to shut off but it will do it while you are driving down the highway! Do you have any idea how difficult it is to bring a car to a stop from seventy miles an hour after the power steering and power brakes fail? It is a seriously dangerous device. It will not be that long before it either causes an accident by shutting the ignition off while the car is moving or fails to allow a non-intoxicated driver to start their car. It keeps track of every attempt (success or failure) and reports it back to the installer. Which my brother then has to take to the court as part of his probation. He then has to explain why to a skeptical judge. Although it is obvious that the device failed when he passes a few minutes later - after getting a drink of water - but it is generally a pain in the ass.

    The company that makes this device would be foolish to allow this legislation to pass without carving out some sort of loophole for themselves that will protect them against lawsuits. Having lived in Colorado for years, I know that the possibility that you get a car stuck and have to spend the night on the side of the road with the car running to provide heat is real. It happens every year to someone and happened to me about eight years ago. If this device shuts the car off while the stranded occupant is sleeping and allows that person to freeze to death there will be some serious liability to the company. It is one thing for the company to say that the occupant was obviously drunk; just look at their record of DUI's. It is quite another matter for them to make that claim against an elderly person who has never had a drink in their life; you have to blow HARD or the device fails. Can you say millions in liability?

    What about the person that gets stranded in a bad part of town by a failed device only to be mugged. You can bet that at least one of these people will have the resources to persue the company in court. My point is that when a judge orders the device installed in a person's car as the result of a DUI the company can make some argument about the lessor of two evils. When it is installed in everybody's car and it harms that person that doesn't drink the company is going to get sued unless there is a legal protection clause (indemnification). If there is some indemnification clause then is it right to allow some company to escape legal recourse for the malfunction of their device when it causes a death or injury?

    My final point is the cost. My brother had to pay $2000 to have the device installed in his $500 car. It isn't that unfair since he did drive drunk but should we charge everyone that much money for the mistakes of a few? I predict that these people from NM will start to buy and sell their cars in neighboring states and that car dealerships in NM will have their business seriously curtailed. They won't sell as many new cars; new cars will have their warrantis voided because these devices will have to be installed after market; and it is a serious invasion of privacy to have your own car keep track of when you use it and for how long. Will it also become law that to have your license renewed that you have to provide the data from the device to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

    This law may pass but it will soon be repealed and some politicians will probably loose their jobs for undertaking such Stalinist tactics. The citizens of New Mexico will become politically active and want some lynchings at the capital.

I never cheated an honest man, only rascals. They wanted something for nothing. I gave them nothing for something. -- Joseph "Yellow Kid" Weil

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