Texas Could Process Drunk Drivers Faster Using New Tech

Texas drunk driversIt’s hard for police to keep their eyes out for Texas drunk drivers, and it’s even harder to finalize an arrest once police have caught one. That’s because police can pull someone over and ask a suspected offender to submit to a breathalyzer test, but that offender has the option of declining. If he or she does decline the police can get a warrant for a blood test, but traditionally that’s been a long and difficult process.

Because of the need for a warrant it takes approximately four to six hours to process a single drunk driving stop, but that could change soon if a new technology is implemented in Texas. Local representatives from Law Enforcement Advanced DWI/DUI Reporting System (LEADRS) are starting to train judges on a new online reporting system that will allow a police officer to send a driving while intoxicated (DWI) blood search warrant straight to a judge.

The officer will be able to stay at the scene of the arrest, send the blood warrant to the judge as easily as sending an email, and after the judge reviews it he or she can sign it and send it back to the officer electronically. Not only will this new tech help police when it comes to court cases, but it will also eliminate the need for the officer to leave the scene, drive the offender to jail, and in some cases, meet the judge somewhere to get a warrant signed.

Something like this could cut the number of drunk drivers on the roads in Texas, and there’s no better time than the present to start a new downward trend in DWI arrests. Since ride sharing services Uber and Lyft pulled out of Austin, there’s been a rash of Texas drunk drivers on the roads.

Could something as simple as speeding up the processing of Texas drunk drivers help change the minds of some offenders who might think there’s a way to get off easily? It’s definitely worth a try.

What Happens During My Ignition Interlock Monitoring Appointment?

 Ignition InterlockJust like everything in life, having an ignition interlock installed in your vehicle can be a learning experience. Unless you’ve had one before you won’t know where it’s installed, how it works, and how hard you need to blow to get your car to turn over.

Another thing you learn when you have your ignition interlock installed? What you need to do to maintain it. Depending on where you live in the USA you’ll be required to head into a service center either once a month or once every few months, and during that visit a few things will happen.

You’ll have your ignition interlock inspected

The service technicians are trained to perform a visual inspection of your interlock and will check to see if the wiring has been damaged or if anyone has interfered with the device.

Your interlock will be calibrated

Much in the same way a police grade breathalyzer has to be calibrated so it’s always taking accurate blood alcohol concentrations (BAC), a car breathalyzer has to be calibrated on a regular basis so it registers your daily BAC properly. This involves testing and adjusting the device until a service tech deems it accurate.

Your interlock data from the past month will be downloaded

If you blow into your ignition interlock and it registers alcohol in your system, your car won’t start. If you believe it to be a false fail you can try again, but if you’ve been drinking and are trying to drive, the car isn’t going anywhere.

While this is going on your device is logging this data, keeping track of passes, fails, starts, and any attempt that could have been made to bypass the device. When you come in for your appointment this info is downloaded and passed onto the court, law enforcement, or DMV. What happens with that data depends on your state.

It might sound complicated and time consuming, but having your ignition interlock serviced shouldn’t take you longer than 15 minutes. Once you’re finished and everything is all good, you’ll be free and clear to drive sober for another month.

A Blood Alcohol Skin Patch That Syncs With Your Ignition Interlock?

skin patch that works with ignition interlock

Photo from ucsdnews.ucsd.edu

More and more states are coming on board with all offender ignition interlock laws, and it’s all because people are starting to recognize how these devices make roads safer for everyone on them.

That might be why you’re starting to see ignition interlock accessories pop up that can add convenience or another layer of safety to the device. Take the scientists at the University of California for example: they’ve designed a flexible, wearable skin patch that will measure someone’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) through their sweat, shares the data with the user, and can be integrated with an ignition interlock.

The skin patch is attached to a person’s skin and it works to induce sweat. Using the sweat, the device detects a person’s alcohol level by connecting to a magnet that’s part of a portable flexible electronic circuit board. It then sends the data via Bluetooth to your smartphone.

The skin patch works in as fast as fifteen minutes, and it’s on a completely different playing field than a breathalyzer because it detects minute amounts of alcohol through sweat and not breath. When you integrate it with an ignition interlock, you have a simple and seamless way to monitor yourself before you blow and possibly violate your interlock program.

The UC scientists felt that the skin patch is a convenient way to check your alcohol consumption when you’ve been drinking, and it is exactly that. Having a steady stream of BAC updates sent to your smartphone when you’ve been drinking could change your mind about putting your keys in the ignition of your car, and if you’ve already got an DUI conviction and you’re driving with an ignition interlock, it could save you from making a big mistake: trying to start your car when you’ve been drinking.

These Apps Could Stop You From Drinking And Driving

apps to prevent drinking and drivingThat smartphone you constantly hold in your hand is a lot more powerful than you might think. You may only use it for photos, talking, texting, and social media, but did you know it can stop you from drinking and driving?

Some of your favorite apps could be Candy Crush and SnapChat , but there are a few others you should add to your phone to make sure you never make the decision to get behind the wheel while drunk. No, they can’t tell you exactly how drunk you are when you’ve had a few beers, but they can provide information and find you a safe ride home.

ENDUI

How can an app tell you how drunk you are? It’s simple science: just enter your gender and weight into the ENDUI app and start inputting the drinks you’ve had. Just like a calorie counter estimates how many calories you have left to eat by the food you enter, ENDUI estimates your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and lets you know when you’ll be nearing the .08 legal limit. When you hit that limit, ENDUI warns you not to drive.

A good thing to remember when using an app like ENDUI: driving buzzed, also known as driving under .08, can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving. Everyone is affected differently by alcohol, so although ENDUI is a good tool to stay on top of your drinks, you shouldn’t assume you’re safe to drive after any amount of alcohol.

Drink Tracker

Binge drinking is a real problem in the United States, and Drink Tracker wants to help stop it. You input the drinks you’re having and it keeps you aware in real time that you’re headed for a blackout or getting out of control. You have to be the one to stop while your drinking, but Drink Tracker could help you make the right choice and say no to that last beer.

Uber

Uber has put ride sharing on the map, and this is one app that can save your life if you’re far too wasted to figure out how to get home. Just open up the Uber app, contact a driver, and you’ll be home safe and sound.

These apps might not be as fun as you’re favorite games, but downloading them could mean you make the right choice by saying no to drinking and driving.That makes them the best apps on your phone.

Will NHTSA’s Safer Mobile App Stop People Who Drink And Drive?

nhtsa-don't-drink-and-driveWill an app stop you from making the decision to drink and drive? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)is hoping so, and after they kicked off their annual ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” anti-drunk driving initiative, they’ve also released a companion app and shared some encouraging statistics showing a decrease in alcohol-related fatalities in 2013.

In 2013 10,076 people died in a drunk driving related crash. That number was down 2.5 percent from the year before. They also found that December 2013 had the lowest number of deaths, coming in at 733 fatalities, even though it was the middle of the busy holiday drinking and driving season.

It’s easy to look at statistics like these and think they are just numbers, but each one of those 10,000 people were someone’s mom, dad, aunt, uncle, grandfather, grandmother, or child. Maybe you even know someone who’s life was lost because someone else made the decision to drink and drive, and that’s why the (NHTSA) hopes their new app will help keep people safe by keeping drunk drivers off the roads.

According to the app information, when you’re too drunk to drive you’re too drunk for a complicated app. If someone has been drinking and they need a ride, they can just open the app and it will provide you with names and numbers you can contact. You can call a taxi service from a number provided or pre-program in a friend’s number. It will also help you find out where you’re located so you can ask for an accurate pick up.

The holiday crackdown began on December 15th and will continue on until January 1st, 2015. Whether you choose to download the app or not, you can help keep the roads safe by making the choice, every time you are out for a fun night on the town this holiday season, to never drink and drive.

Is This The World’s Smallest Breathalyzer ?

drinkmate-pocket-breathalyzerYou’d have to living off the grid if you hadn’t noticed the deluge of pocket breathalyzers hitting the market over the past year. There’s stand alone breathalyzers that work with their own battery, breathalyzer apps, breathalyzers that plug right into your smartphone, and now after a successful Kickstarter campaign, a new breathalyzer will soon be hitting the market. This one is billed at being the world’s smallest.

DrinkMate is about the size of a USB stick and plugs right into the lightning port of your iPhone. When you blow straight into the device, it takes your blood alcohol content (BAC) reading. Because it doesn’t use a tube, DrinkMate is said to be the only device you can pass around to friends.

Like some other pocket breathalyzers, DrinkMate is based on a social sharing platform. People are able to test their BAC and share the results on Twitter or Facebook, and the DrinkMate app will share your BAC alongside the legal US BAC limit of .08. They’ve even included a rolling timer so you know exactly how long it will be until you’re sober.

Although the developers say the idea behind DrinkMate is to create a social situation where everyone is aware of his or her BAC. If people out together know what their BAC is, the theory is that they’ll make the right choice to not drink and drive. What has yet to be proven is how accurate the DrinkMate is.

DrinkMate’s developers say they calculate BAC differently than a breathalyzer, and their accuracy is + / – 0.01% BAC at a BAC of 0.02%, but the technology behind DrinkMate is not yet known. What is known is that most pocket breathalyzers are not designed to use the same accurate and reliable fuel cell technology that an ignition interlock device or police grade breathalyzer are.

All it takes is one look at DrinkMate’s Kickstarter campaign to see that people are interested in seeing the breathalyzer hit the market, so time will tell how well the tiny device works. But when it comes to all pocket breathalyzers, the best rule of thumb to follow is to use caution, and if you have even one drink, don’t drive.

Image from www.engineering.com

3 Technologies To Help Prevent Teen Crashes

teen-crashes As a parent, there’s every reason to be scared when a teen gets a driver’s license. The freedom they get from being handed the car keys can translate into reckless behavior, and reckless behavior behind the wheel can lead to teen crashes.

Fatal car crashes are still the leading cause of death among teens, but there are 3 new pieces of technology that will track your teen’s behavior so you can relax when they’re out in the car by themselves.

Technology to stop them from drinking and driving

An ignition interlock is a device that, once installed in your vehicle, will require your teen to submit a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) sample before the car or truck will start. Ignition interlocks are voluntary in many states, so you have the option of installing one if you’re worried that your teen will drink and drive.

Technology to set a maximum speed limit

Ford MyKey is available in any Ford vehicle with the MyFordTouch infotainment system installed. It’s a special key parents can use to control the settings of the car including setting a maximum speed limit of 80 MPH and adjusting the audio system so the teen can’t turn up the music too loudly. The radio will also not turn on if the seat belts aren’t fastened, so your teen will be forced to buckle up.

Technology to limit where your teen drivers

Unlike the Ford MyKey, the General Motors Family Link System won’t stop your teen from speeding. What it will do is stop your teen from driving outside of a certain area. You set the perimeter they can drive within, and if they go outside of it, you get a text message. You can also locate the car or truck at any time just by going onto the GM OnStar website.

From speeding to drinking and driving, it’s nice to know technology has advanced to the point that there are ways you can protect your teen before they make the wrong decision while behind the wheel.

The Battle Of The Breathalyzer

smartphone-breathalzyer-vs-police-breathalyzerThe pocket breathalyzer market has really exploded over the past year, and you can find the tiny devices carried everywhere from big box stores to online. If a pocket breathalyzer isn’t convenient enough for you, you can also find smartphone apps that double as breathalyzers too.

But are these tiny breathalyzers even effective, and how do they stand up to a device like a police grade breathalyzer or an ignition interlock? One reporter from Michigan decided to find out by doing a test at the local county jail, and armed with a six-pack of beer, they put the two devices head to head.

After each beer, the participants tested their breath on both the smartphone breathalyzer and the police grade breathalyzer. The first round found that the test results were fairly similar, but with each test the number on the smartphone breathalyzer fluctuated wildly up and down while the police grade breathalyzer slowly increased. When one of the reporters who wasn’t drinking tried the smartphone breathalyzer, he noted that his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .04 without even drinking alcohol.

Not many people have the opportunity to compare a smartphone breathalyzer with a police grade breathalyzer, but you don’t have to do a comparison to be skeptical about whether or not the smartphone breathalyzer really works. These small devices aren’t designed with the same type of technology a police grade breathalyzer or ignition interlock are, and the reporter in this case believes that the smartphone breathalyzer may lull people into a false sense of security. If they don’t blow over .08, they may decide to drive anyway.

Driving after drinking any amount of alcohol is a mistake, even if you’re testing yourself after every drink you consume. To truly guarantee your safety and the safety of everyone on the road with you, ask a sober driver to get you home. That way, you won’t have to worry about how high your blood alcohol concentration is.

Stopped for DUI? There’s An App For That

dueydialerThere are game apps, apps for social networking, and even apps that double as a breathalyzer of sorts, so it’s no surprise that there’s now an app to stand in as your lawyer in case you’re pulled over for driving under the influence (DUI).

DueyDialer is a new app with a simple concept. When you’re pulled over at a checkpoint or by a police officer for suspected drunk driving, all you have to do is press the ‘trouble’ button and then ‘contact your attorney’ and the app will record your interaction with the police. Once you’re finished recording, the app will connect you to an attorney through text and email.

There are a few reasons why you should use caution with an app like DueyDialer. To start, you may need to notify the police officer he or she is being recorded before you use the app. If the officer records you, he or she notifies you before they do so, so you should extend the same courtesy.

Another consideration you might want to take into account is why you’re preparing to be arrested for DUI in the first place. It’s one thing to download the app quickly after you’re arrested as backup, but if you’ve already got the app downloaded and ready on your phone just in case you’re stopped for DUI? That’s something that might make you want to rethink your life choices.

Drinking and driving is a choice, and being stopped for drinking and driving isn’t just your bad luck: it happens because law enforcement and lawmaker’s are dedicated to stopping drunk drivers before they crash and kill someone.

Consuming alcohol and then getting behind the wheel is extremely dangerous, so if you don’t want to be arrested for DUI, you shouldn’t drive after drinking any amount of alcohol.

History Of The Breathalyzer

breathalyzerIt’s hard to believe, but the beginning of the breathalyzer device actually goes back as far as 1874. That’s when research began on how possible it would be to use a person’s breath to test whether or not they’ve consumed alcohol.

It wasn’t until vehicles began to be manufactured on a large-scale in 1902 that the idea of measuring a person’s intoxication level became important, because that’s when people began to drive drunk. New York was the first location where drunk driving laws were put into place in 1910, and as people began to drive more, driving under the influence (DUI) laws began to pop up around the world.

Back then, police determined whether or not someone was under influence of alcohol by observing the driver for signs of intoxication. They’d look for bloodshot eyes, the smell of alcohol, and test whether or not a driver could walk a straight line or touch his or her nose. These types of exercises are still used by police and are now known as field sobriety tests, but at that time, it was all law enforcement had to go on in order to charge drunk drivers.

Photo credit http://www.drinkdriving.orgAt this point in history, both drunk driving and field sobriety tests were new to everyone, but that was all about to change again. In 1927, Emil Bogen did research involving air in a football that he tested for traces of alcohol. His research laid the ground work for the comparison of someone’s breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) to their blood alcohol concentration (BAC), and it was in no small part that this information helped Indiana University professor Rolla Harger invent the drunk-o-meter in 1938.

The drunk-o-meter measured alcohol levels through a stable breath-testing instrument, and it arrived on the scene right when the U.S. was in the midst of prohibition. To use the device, a person had to blow into a balloon, and the air was then released into a chemical solution. If there was alcohol on the breath the solution would change color, and he used a mathematical equation to estimate the amount of alcohol someone had in his or her body.

Photo Photo http://www.drinkdriving.orgIt wasn’t until 1954 that Robert Borkenstein took Harger’s invention and improved upon it, creating a portable tool he called the breathalyzer. He also invented a coin operated breathalyzer that would display messages like ‘Be a safe driver’ or ‘Be a good walker’ to the person who blew into it.

From these humble beginnings, the breathaylzer device has advanced over the years, and now standard breathalyzers used by law enforcement and ignition interlock devices required by drunk driving offenders utilize the latest in fuel cell technology to measure a driver’s BAC.

Technology may have improved the breathalyzer, but the reason it was invented in the first place is still an issue – the fight against drunk driving has been going on for over a century, and until the time when all drunk drivers are off the roads, tools like the breathalyzer will help enforce DUI laws all around the world.

Photo credit drunkometer and breathalyzer – Drinkdriving.org

 

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