Could police tell if you've been drinking simply by firing a laser at your car?

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by BottleCaps80, Jun 11, 2014.

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  1. BottleCaps80

    BottleCaps80 Defender (626) Jan 12, 2013 Iowa
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    Interesting technology and I foresee this becoming a normal device in the not too distant future.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencet...alcohol-drivers-breath-sends-data-police.html
     
  2. beerindaglass

    beerindaglass Initiate (0) Feb 20, 2013 Florida

    No. It could easily be a passenger.
     
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  3. beersdmf17

    beersdmf17 Disciple (385) Jun 26, 2012 Illinois
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    I doubt it. Speed detectors like radar and lasers are one thing but this is something completely different and might fall under lack of probable cause. Not to mention the close distance required to get a reading. And like the article said it doesn't take into account passengers, spills, or other similar factors. It would probably be set off by putting Purell on your hands or using mouthwash.
     
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  4. pjs234

    pjs234 Devotee (469) Jun 29, 2008 Connecticut

    True, but it would likely be enough to establish probably cause for a vehicle stop so that they can determine if the driver is sober.
     
  5. pjs234

    pjs234 Devotee (469) Jun 29, 2008 Connecticut

    I could definitely see this being a common practice. Keep in mind that they would not be arresting you just because the laser detected alcohol, it would merely be a tool to determine who to stop for further investigation. They would still need to determine you BAC through breath or blood tests, assuming you consent to them.
     
    charlzm likes this.
  6. JArmour15

    JArmour15 Initiate (0) Jan 2, 2014 Pennsylvania

    That is no where near enough probable cause for any type of charge to stand.
     
  7. TheeWalrusHunter

    TheeWalrusHunter Initiate (0) Aug 23, 2013 Oregon

    Yes they can. Don't drink and drive.
     
  8. JArmour15

    JArmour15 Initiate (0) Jan 2, 2014 Pennsylvania

    But it's not enough to stop a vehicle.
     
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  9. JArmour15

    JArmour15 Initiate (0) Jan 2, 2014 Pennsylvania

    What is the probable cause for the traffic stop?

    Alcohol vapors in the air in the cabin of your vehicle?
     
  10. Ian_B

    Ian_B Devotee (430) Apr 2, 2014 Massachusetts

    Probable cause is, unfortunately, slightly arbitrary / subject to interpretation. Personally, I don't think the fact that there is someone else drunk in the car with me warrants getting pulled over. Obviously there's a greater chance that the driver may also be intoxicated but you can't assume guilt, especially if the driver is obeying the rules of the road.
     
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  11. mudbug

    mudbug Defender (621) Mar 27, 2009 Oregon

    Another total waste of energy and money. While admittedly alcohol can be a factor in a traffic accident, the vast majority of traffic accidents (some claim up to 90%) are caused by driver error, add into the fact that in accidents where the driver that had consumed alcohol, even if he/she was not at fault in the accident is charged and that accident falls into the demon alcohol statistic and you see where we are. Demonizing the easy and ignoring the elephant in the room, driver incompetence. It would be far more useful if they could aim a laser and detect stupid Or how about this? Real driver training and tougher licensing tests?
     
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  12. Redneckwine

    Redneckwine Disciple (304) Dec 3, 2013 Washington

    No more road beers? Damn, there goes my weekends!

    Kidding. But in all seriousness, this is a cool idea but I just don't see it being implemented effectively; there appear to be too many chances of false positives, not to mention the sheer cost of such devices (speculation, but hey they're freakin' high tech lasers brah).
     
  13. beerindaglass

    beerindaglass Initiate (0) Feb 20, 2013 Florida

    No way.
     
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  14. kingston2

    kingston2 Disciple (375) Sep 14, 2008 Pennsylvania

    This really begins to tread on our freedoms and rights. It is not illegal to drink a beer or two and then to drive. That is legal in all states. This thing will make even that a risk....
     
  15. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Meyvn (1,428) Aug 29, 2012 Nebraska
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    Did anyone else catch the part at the end about how the system can compensate for any tactics a drunk driver might use to fool the system?

    "‘From the practical point of view, there seem to be some countermeasures, such as driving with windows open, solar screens on the side windows, etc., that can be applied by drivers to deceive the system,’ the authors wrote in their conclusion.

    ‘However, such situations are very easily detected by the system, which sends this information to the policeman indicating that the car should be checked.’"


    That's insane. So any car with windows down or solar screening on the side windows indicates that the car should be checked? GTFO. Aside from the problem of pulling over completely innocent people, there is the fact that every time some cop pulls over a non-intoxicated person, they are removing themselves from potentially catching a dangerously drunk driver using those old-fashioned detection devices known as EYES. By far the best way to detect whether a driver is over the legal limit is by OBSERVING THEIR DRIVING. Not by detecting alcohol vapor in the car. Police can't pull over every person who gets in their car over 0.07 per cent BAC. It makes more sense for them to focus on the people who are so shithoused that they are a high risk to everyone else on the road. The best way to catch those people is to see their erratic driving.

    This is an example of the technology outsmarting its own usefulness.
     
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  16. charlzm

    charlzm Poo-Bah (2,481) Sep 3, 2007 California
    Society

    As the article states, countermeasures include rolling your windows down. Or driving a convertible. Or sun screens affixed to the windows. I am guessing that one could also apply some kind of film to the windows that would interfere with the laser. Or, a bunch of people could purposely create false positives and then challenge the resulting traffic stops in court.
     
    Scrapss likes this.
  17. johnrf

    johnrf Initiate (45) May 21, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I wouldn't be so sure that this would be considered a violation of the 4th amendment by our current courts. While everyone was raving about the second amendment the courts gutted the 4th.

    And the courts have already allowed the cops to pull everyone over at their unconstitutional check-points.

    BUT, anyone who drinks and drives is a jerk and, if you do it, I hope you get caught and it ruins your life. Many lives are ruined by drunk drivers and they give beer drinkers a bad name. Don't do it. Imagine how you'd feel for the rest of your life if you killed someone's child, or your own.
     
  18. rather

    rather Aspirant (202) May 31, 2013 California

    only way I can see this being used is instead of sobriety check point stop you would drive through and if it got a reading you would be stopped.
     
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  19. beersdmf17

    beersdmf17 Disciple (385) Jun 26, 2012 Illinois
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    The article states it can detect concentrations as low as 0.1%. That translated to BAC is 2.1%, we'll pass when you would be dead. This guys article has links to comparing BAC to alcohol in the air.

    http://www.popsci.com/article/science/roadside-laser-could-remotely-detect-drivers-alcohol-breath
     
  20. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Meyvn (1,428) Aug 29, 2012 Nebraska
    Trader

    Nice work. And really, it shouldn't be that surprising given how hard it is for the breathalyzers they use in the field to get a reading that's solid enough to determine a person's BAC. This device seems to take a similar technology--determining BAC by reading airborne ethanol vapors--and introduces a bunch of variables that can't be controlled. It's not that shocking that it would only be able to read vapor levels that were so high that no living person could exhale them.
     
  21. crowellbw

    crowellbw Aspirant (261) Dec 1, 2010 Washington

    This simply won't work in practice. This just relies on travel-time differences using a michaelson interferometer. You end up measuring phase changes and amplitude changes as the laser light is recombined, probably at a few cm wavelengths. For very accurate measurements, the ends need to be temperature controlled and very stable, and many factors impact the change in the speed of light that pinning it down to alcohol alone is dangerous. The temperature differential across the road would probably have a bigger impact than alcohol, not to mention wind and road vibrations would make the uncertainty greater than the phase change due to 0.1% alcohol.
     
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  22. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado


    Huh? Since when is it legal to drink and drive? Have you been living in a cave for the last 20 or so years? Maybe a beer or two for a 200 lb. male over the course of several hours wouldn't be a problem. But have two in an hour for anybody regardless of size and then drive by a police station honking your horn and you'll see if it's illegal to drink a beer or two and then to drive.
     
    #22 otispdriftwood, Jun 11, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2014
  23. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado

    If a police department ends up using he technology and it doesn't end up causing a shitstorm in courts, i.e. not getting convictions due to lack of probable cause, problems with the equipment, etc., it will be a thing of the future. If you remember the early uses of radar guns, the equipment was attacked as being not calibrated properly or often enough. Now, if you've been ticketed as a result of a radar gun, it's a slam dunk for the police in most jurisdictions. Rest assured, this technology will be tried and tweaked until it works. The only thing that will keep it from being unleashed on us is the cost. And if the results do not justify the cost, well then we won't have to worry about lasers.
     
    #23 otispdriftwood, Jun 11, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2014
    kemoarps likes this.
  24. kingston2

    kingston2 Disciple (375) Sep 14, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Sorry, I disagree with you... Blood alcohol levels for most adults who have had a couple beers over the course of a night would not put you in an illegal range.. If you pound em I guess it would but that's not my point.. I'm talking about being out for a meal, having a beer or two over a couple hours and being clearly legal to drive... this device would still detect and thus trigger a traffic stop.. And for the record our country is full of 200 lb males so yeah.. I guess that is who I am talking about..
     
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  25. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado

    Agreed. A meal and a couple of drinks is probably not a problem. If you had just explained your point a little better in your original post, I could have saved myself some time.
     
  26. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    Could be an illegal search. Using infrared to detect pot growing operations in homes was determined to be an illegal search. But the courts have tended to be more "friendly" towards car searches than home searches.
     
  27. BottleCaps80

    BottleCaps80 Defender (626) Jan 12, 2013 Iowa
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    Even if these things cost $1 Million each, if they do end up getting OK'd to use by police and the convictions hold up in court, they would pay for themselves in less than a month in some larger cities I'm sure. Municipal governments all over the country would be buying these up just left and right because of the increased revenue from DUI convictions. They'd also have to hire more attorneys though!
     
  28. kingston2

    kingston2 Disciple (375) Sep 14, 2008 Pennsylvania

    :slight_smile:Sorry I wasted your time.... It was not my intent....
     
  29. BottleCaps80

    BottleCaps80 Defender (626) Jan 12, 2013 Iowa
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    Growing pot in the privacy of your own home isn't really the same as driving a car drunk though. You can't kill someone by growing pot in your house. I think if these get approved to be used by police departments, they will be considered legal grounds for a traffic stop.
     
  30. jman005

    jman005 Initiate (0) Jan 21, 2013 Kentucky

    Why wouldn't that be probable cause? It definitely isn't normal to have alcohol vapors floating around in your car. The only common things I could see setting this off are rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.
     
    Shroud0fdoom likes this.
  31. pjs234

    pjs234 Devotee (469) Jun 29, 2008 Connecticut

    Probable cause is not assuming guilt... it's just a reason for stopping a car, similar to a broken tail light, driving with your lights off, being in the wrong neighborhood.... I'm not saying I agree with this, I just think it will hold up as being enough probable cause for an officer to stop a car to see if you've been drinking.
     
  32. pjs234

    pjs234 Devotee (469) Jun 29, 2008 Connecticut

    way
     
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  33. pjs234

    pjs234 Devotee (469) Jun 29, 2008 Connecticut

    Stopping a car to see if the driver is intoxicated is not a search. In the pot situation, the only way a cop could tell if the pot was search the house for it. In the car situation, a cop can tell from interacting with the driver if the person might be drunk.
     
  34. Jirin

    Jirin Aspirant (227) Apr 28, 2013 Massachusetts

    Sounds like stop and frisk for drivers. I wonder which segment of the population will get checked the most. :wink:

    Setting the precedent that it's okay to pull over drivers who may be under 5% BAC would be a power that would easily be abused to harass and interrogate people that 'Just don't seem right' to the officer.

    Now, alcohol vapors combined with swerving, that'd be a little more reasonable.
     
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  35. Casey3236

    Casey3236 Crusader (708) Sep 14, 2012 Pennsylvania

    So I'm driving along, , a laser hits me right in the eye, I swerve and get pulled over. There's all the probable cause you need!
     
  36. jefffalcone

    jefffalcone Initiate (0) Nov 9, 2013 Massachusetts

    according to this site, I can drink 4 beers in an hour as a 175 lb man and still be just under the legal limit.

    http://bloodalcoholcalculator.org/#LinkURL

    clearly this is just a rough estimate, but most grown men can drink a beer an hour for quite a few hours and remain under the legal limit.
     
  37. beerindaglass

    beerindaglass Initiate (0) Feb 20, 2013 Florida

    Cab Drivers, no doubt. Especially Fri and Sat late night.
     
    kemoarps likes this.
  38. jefffalcone

    jefffalcone Initiate (0) Nov 9, 2013 Massachusetts

    The article stated that driving with your windows open sets it off as does having a solar shield on your window. So you think open widow driving should constitute probable cause to pull somebody over?

    If so, that's unfortunate, since opening your windows when you are tired is recommended to avoid falling asleep at the wheel. It sure would suck if people fell asleep at the wheel because they were afraid of being accused of being drunk because they had the window open.
     
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  39. RyanGoodman

    RyanGoodman Initiate (0) Nov 16, 2011 Bolivia

    This might be a problem in Beverly Hills where the township has the money, but for everyone else, I wouldn't get too worried about it happening in the next 50 years.
     
  40. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Meyvn (1,428) Aug 29, 2012 Nebraska
    Trader

    As far as I'm concerned, this is the crux of why this won't ever fly. Either drunk drivers who are determined to avoid detection can do so relatively easy (rolling down window) or the detection technology has to have a threshold that is so absurdly broad as to not constitute anything resembling probable cause.

    It's sort of like stopping anyone who is wearing a trenchcoat because that trenchcoat could conceal an illegal firearm.

    Yes, but probable cause should also involve some likelihood of finding someone committing the the infraction that is "probable cause" for suspicion. You can be pulled over for a broken taillight and driving with your lights off because those things are actual infractions. In those situations, you aren't being pulled over for probable cause--you're being pulled over for breaking an ordinance. I've never heard of being stopped for "being in the wrong neighborhood". That sounds incredibly problematic.

    The issue with this device is that the connection between a car being flagged and the car having someone inside who is breaking the law is not "probable". It's possible. Possible cause isn't a standard that most police forces operate under, that I'm aware of. There are too many explanations outside of the illegal one that set this device off to bear scrutiny.

    The problems with this device won't come from people who are guilty of drunk driving contesting their convictions on the basis of being stopped illegally. It will come from the non-intoxicated citizens who are pulled over for no other reason than this device flagging their car suing police departments for harassment.

    Any technology that needs such a broad standard for producing a "potential positive" can't possibly be effective.
     
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