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.

(Full Story)
Posted 11:40 AM

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