In California, the drunk driving statutes are found in the California Vehicle Code. The code states it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle on a highway while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs. In addition, it is unlawful to drive with a blood alcohol content, or BAC, of .08 percent or greater. There is a rebuttable presumption that if the BAC result is .08% or greater and the test was done within three hours of driving, it may be concluded that the driver’s blood alcohol was at or above a .08 at the time of driving.
California is among the states that have already implemented the use of ignition interlock devices (IID’s) for those convicted of driving under the influence. The device is installed in the defendant’s car. In order to start the car, the driver must first blow into the machine. If alcohol is not detected, the car will start. If it is detected, the car will not start.
A Massachusetts company, Qinetiq, received $10 million in total funding from the federal government and all sixteen major car makers, to develop a technology that would prevent a car from operating if a driver has alcohol in their system, according to cbsnews.com. The intention is to make this a safety feature just like seatbelts, putting it into every new car requiring everyone to use it.
Qinetiq is currently testing a breath-based and a touch-based system. The breath-based system uses a sensor on the steering wheel that tests the driver’s breath. The touch-based system uses a sensor in the start/stop button which sends an infrared light into the driver’s finger when the vehicle is started. If alcohol is detected, the car will start but not be operational.
The American Beverage Institute (ABI) is concerned that the sensors can be inaccurate, it targets all drivers, and it can eliminate a person’s ability to have a drink at dinner, a ballgame, or a wedding, which is not illegal.
With the current political view and pressure about drinking and driving, it seems inevitable that we will have zero tolerance laws in place as soon as this technology is thought to be perfected. A driver will not be able to drive after consuming alcohol until the alcohol has been eliminated from their system, and many people will choose not to drink at all.
If you are arrested for DUI, you owe it to yourself to hire a criminal defense attorney that only practices drunk driving defense. These cases and the science behind the law and evidence is very technical and fact specific.