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. JMS1512

    JMS1512 Crusader (776) Feb 18, 2013 New Jersey

    As they should.
  2. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (5,242) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Moderator Society Trader

    BAC levels disagree with you, friend. Most regular-size, adult males can have two drinks in an hour and be under the .08 limit. Granted, many states can arrest you for DUI regardless of BAC (if they see you driving in a way that they consider impaired, for example); and I'm not exactly recommending that you down your beers as fast as possible and drive away an hour later.

    But the idea that you have to be some massive beast of a dude to down a single beer and be under the limit? Factually, statistically incorrect. Any cop who works the DUI beat will tell you that most men will not be legally intoxicated after two beers in an hour, and further, than typical metabolism results in the processing of about a single "drink" per hour.

    All of that said: don't drive drunk, BAs. :slight_smile:
  3. charlzm

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

    I'm well north of 200 pounds and I got a noticeable effect from drinking a 10 ounce can of Coors Summer Brew on an empty stomach a few days ago. Let's not get into why I did it, just that it had an effect. I may have been legal to drive at that point, but I'd hate to chance it.
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  4. fermentedbarley

    fermentedbarley Devotee (419) May 22, 2012 New Hampshire

    Not yet....but some day.
  5. frazbri

    frazbri Crusader (775) Oct 29, 2003 Ohio

    Of course, if you're so tired that you roll the window down to stay awake, you shouldn't be on the road.
    Roguer likes this.
  6. redmaw

    redmaw Initiate (187) Jun 30, 2013 Pennsylvania

    See the funny thing there is that driving with your lights off or having a broken tail light is a violation of the law (or the vehicle code) this isn't a case of probable cause, it is a case of observed violation of the law. Smelling alcohol during issuing a ticket for a broken light becomes probable cause for further sobriety test (mostly because in many states you sign away your rights in this regard in order to get a drivers license). Of course we all know the police abuse this when they want to check a car out because they can nearly always find a vehicle code violation (you know those license plate surrounds are a violation if they cover up any word on the plate, including the website at the very bottom).

    That being said this technology cannot work well, and I would expect the manufacturer is overstating it's usefulness. If it is sensitive to the presence of glass or a uv screen (i read window tint) what will another airborne organic compound mess with the results, like say gasoline fumes in the car? I would bet this has more false negatives, or false positives in real world use that it does have true positive results.
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  7. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (5,242) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
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    Legally, a breathalyzer is considered a search of your person or property. However, by having a driver's license, you have already consented to that search (in every state I've ever lived in, anyway).

    So yes: having this laser (or LIDAR, as they called it) ping on you would most likely support a reasonable search of the driver. Last I checked, red light cameras and speed cameras - which have both proven to be technically flawed, faulty, and sometimes complete horse-shit - are legal. I don't see this as much more as bridging the gap between that kind of technology and already-legal DUI check points.

    @Casey3236 I doubt this is a laser in the spectrum of visible light. Some districts already use laser for speed (vice radar); ever been "hit in the eye" by one of those? :wink:

    Re: confounding factors: please, please stop confusing the effects on the accuracy of the laser with probable cause (not you, PJ; just in general). It is noted that these are things that could affect the accuracy - not completely defeat it. Example: the LIDAR picks up a car with an alcohol vapor content that, theoretically, is below the legal limit, but above the threshold for detection. However, the windows are down, and the A/C is blasting. Between the two, that constitutes enough reason to assume that the driver might be above the legal limit, and the overall situation warrants a more precise look - i.e. a breathalyzer and field sobriety test.

    There are a lot of assumptions there. But nowhere in the article does it state that the police would be breathalyzing everyone who has their windows down. That's a leap of logic that is simply not supported.
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  8. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (5,242) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Moderator Society Trader

    If you're at risk of falling asleep at the wheel, you are as dangerous as someone who is driving drunk. See: the truck driver being charged with manslaughter in the Tracy Morgan case. See also: innumerable studies comparing the effects of sleep deprivation while driving to those while under the influence.
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  9. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (5,242) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Moderator Society Trader

    ...and I'm south of 150 lbs, and I get zero effect from 16 oz of DIPA. I'm also of Scottish and German descent, pale skin with blue eyes (yes, a factor), and from a family of alcoholics (both sides). (I'd also wager that I would not get zero effect from the same amount if I were on an empty stomach).

    In both cases, both of us would be legal to drive. You're entirely correct in that, if you're feeling the effects, you should not be driving, regardless of the legal limit. But there are a lot of individual factors - individual to the person, and individual to the circumstances - that come into play regarding the amplitude and time of the effect of alcohol upon a person. The idea that the average US male cannot have a beer or two within an hour or two and be under the legal limit is demonstrably false. I think we both agree that it might still be a bad idea to drive, regardless of the legal limit. :rolling_eyes:
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  10. jefffalcone

    jefffalcone Initiate (0) Nov 9, 2013 Massachusetts

    I agree. But at times you find yourself driving on the highway and you realize you are very tired. Sometimes it's a long way to the next rest area and unfortunately if you pull over on the highway for a nap you are likely to be woken by the police. NTM that isn't particularly safe either. When you find yourself in that situation, and we all have, opening the window helps.

    There can be a lag time between when you become too tired to drive and when it's safe to stop driving.
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  11. Casey3236

    Casey3236 Crusader (708) Sep 14, 2012 Pennsylvania

    @Casey3236 Idoubt this is a laser in the spectrum of visible light. Some districts already use laser for speed (vice radar); ever been "hit in the eye" by one of those? :wink:

    Sorry, I should have used the /sarcasm tags
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  12. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    The search the SCOTUS ruled unconstitutional was using the infrared from the street. They used that as probably cause to get a warrant to search the house, IIRC. SCOTUS threw out the whole thing because the infrared detection was an illegal search.

    Its very analogous, but they have always given more leeway to searches of cars, so might let this go too.
  13. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    While things are changing, in general, the penalty for growing pot is worse than the penalty for a DUI. Im not saying they will be considered illegal, but I know which case to reference in court. And Im not even a lawyer.
  14. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    Google cars will solve the problem from the other direction well before 50 years.
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  15. jefffalcone

    jefffalcone Initiate (0) Nov 9, 2013 Massachusetts

    I don't believe you. There is a difference between zero effect and not impaired. I completely believe that you are not impaired after a 16 oz dipa, but it affects you. Same way a cup of coffee or some other mild drug affects you. If you really think you can't feel it at all, I think you aren't as self aware as you could be.

    I reread this and it sounds confrontational. I don't mean it that way, so I edited, but I'm not sure how to say it better, so...
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  16. LambicPentameter

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

    From the article:

    "‘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.’"

    Maybe I'm misreading it, but to me that says that any vehicle that has it's windows down or UV tint on its windows will be flagged as a car that the policeman should check. It's not about the "accuracy" of the laser. It's about the device identifying any situational element that *could* be used to affect the accuracy of the laser as a positive. Again, it's akin to identifying anyone who has a bulky coat on as worthy of being stopped because that bulky coat *could* be used to conceal something illegal.

    No, they won't be breathalyzing everyone whose windows are down or who has a UV screen on their car, but they will be pulling them over. And if that's the level of discrimination that this device can provide, then it sounds like a very expensive waste of time--we might as well tell cops to pull over anyone driving at night who has their windows down or who has sun screens on their windows. Or just set up a regular old DUI checkpoint and check everyone, again, making the device pointless.
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  17. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (5,242) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Moderator Society Trader

    Apples and oranges. Growing pot is considered the production of a drug (because, well, it is), and in the current "War on Drugs" situation, that's Bad, M'Kay? A more analogous comparison would be if there are significant differences to driving while high/stoned and driving while drunk.

    -----I am not saying that people should be penalized more for growing pot. I'm saying it's not at all covered by the same law.
  18. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (5,242) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Moderator Society Trader

    I'm not affected by a cup of coffee. Sorry. Two cups? A pot? Definitely. Chemically, caffeine acts as a reuptake inhibitor; by its very nature, that tends to have an effect not on the order of minutes, but on the order of hours (check out the biological half-life of caffeine, for example). But feeling an actual change in my physiology (e.g. jittery)? Not from one cup, period.

    That doesn't mean that I'm implying that a cup of coffee might not serve to slightly assist me in being less sleepy in an hour or so, any more than I'm certainly not implying that beer is not going to serve to dehydrate me in the long run. But being actually affected? Nope (and I said that I feel zero effect, in response to the original quote regarding a 10 oz beer). The argument isn't whether or not you're legally impaired, nor is it about whether or not there is literally a non-zero change somewhere in your body; it's about whether or not you feel affected.

    Jeff, you're not coming across to me as confrontational; I get your point. Please check the post to which I was referring to, though, for context. That might explain why I'm going with the "zero effect" stance.
  19. Matthew1788

    Matthew1788 Initiate (0) Feb 23, 2013 Ohio

    The end of the article is ridiculous. Driving with your windows down is enough to screw up the lasers and that is enough to pull you over. "Sir it seams your windows were down, would you mind blowing into this for me". Yea that's going to fly...
  20. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (5,242) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Moderator Society Trader

    I don't know that you're misreading it; I do think you may be overreacting. I don't see anything that says that having your windows down or your A/C on are, by themselves, indicators that a car must be pulled over. Maybe I'm looking for exclusively stated content, and you're going on implied content.

    More specifically, though, you're worried about discrimination or a potential waste of time. There is currently no plan to employ this anywhere, much less in the United States. This is a study, conducted in Poland, about the feasibility of the system (which is being called into question). Conjecture about how it might be inefficiently or nefariously employed in reality is not particularly fruitful speculation at this point, in my opinion.
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  21. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    But whether or not something is a legal or illegal search has NOTHING to do with the particular law. Because it is a car, the search might be considered legal, vs if it was a house. The fact that the infrared search case involved pot is entirely beside the point.

    Im saying that this reminds me of the infrared case, where they were detecting info about the inside of the house/car from a distance. And that was found to be illegal.
  22. redmaw

    redmaw Initiate (187) Jun 30, 2013 Pennsylvania

    So whether or not a system can be efficiently employed is not relevant to a discussion about a study on the feasibility of a system? How can a system be feasible if it can't be effectively employed?
  23. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (5,242) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Moderator Society Trader

    That's entirely true, but your quote I referenced discussed the differing penalties. I agree that it may well be considered legal, simply because it is a car vice a house. My point is that the fact that growing pot has more severe legal repercussions than driving drunk is neither here nor there, whether or not this is ruled to be legal.

    Aroo? OK, two points to address, then (in reverse order).
    1) Feasibility versus employment. This is not a study by Police Academy University; this is a study as to the feasibility of the technology. Technology always comes before ethical use; see: the atomic bomb, chemical weapons, etc. Being scientifically feasible in no way, shape, or form implies that it would ever see the field; that is a question for the government (and, it turns out, not all governments are the same - not even all democracies!).
    2) Sure it's relevant to discuss! However, not all discussion needs to be knee-jerk, "Oh holy shit, kiss the 4th Amendment good-bye!" levels of reaction. I don't see a problem with those who are discussing whether or not this will be considered legal; that's relevant. I have a minor problem with people who are reacting as though this will be employed around the corner from their home, like next freaking weak. Overreaction and hyperbole serve no useful function.
  24. Spike-likes-beer

    Spike-likes-beer Initiate (0) Nov 8, 2012 Oklahoma

    Every week I have my bottles in my car to take to recycling (bc Oklahoma is way against making recycling easy), and I would hate to get pulled over bc of any left over alcohol vapors in the bottles. I hope this doesn't become a thing, bc it feels like a definite invasion of privacy.
  25. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

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  26. BlindSalimander

    BlindSalimander Initiate (150) Aug 16, 2010 Texas

    It's always great when Beer Advocates turn into Pseudo Lawyers.
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  27. RichardMNixon

    RichardMNixon Devotee (486) Jun 24, 2012 Pennsylvania

    In the paper, it doesn't look like they actually drove the car while measuring... I use a very similar tool in the lab (FTIR) and cool it with liquid nitrogen (not feasible on the road): it still takes a second to get a reading and I don't have nearly as much noise as they'll have. I can't imagine this would work unless you're stopped. Plus if the mirror ever got slightly out of alignment, game over.
  28. raffels

    raffels Initiate (0) Dec 12, 2009 West Virginia

  29. redmaw

    redmaw Initiate (187) Jun 30, 2013 Pennsylvania

    1) A feasibility study, at least in the program I work for, is not about whether or not something is technically possible to do, but whether or something can be practically implemented, and how well it will work if it is implemented. That is, is it feasible to do, not can it technically be done, which are to different questions. For example it is technically possible to drive 6 hours each way to work (6+8+6 <24), but this is not a very feasible course of action (in practical terms this leaves 4 hours to eat sleep and do everything else). Frankly that is all semantics though. The post you quoted was specifically talking about the practicality of using the system. To my reading it was entirely about whether or not it would be in anyway useful to the police, and not about the legality of using (i.e. the conclusion was that you might as well put in a old fashioned check point and pull over everyone). To which you said whether or not it could be employed wasn't relevant. Which I disagree with, I think the ability to use the technology, whether it is because the technology can't be practically used, or is not legal, or for any other reason is the single key point of this discussion.
    2) I agree over reaction is not particularly helpful, but I did not see this in the post you quoted. I didn't even see a mention of the 4th amendment or rights. Simply that the technology provides no good way for a police officer to decide who to pull over, and so might as well go with the current stand by, which is to pull everyone over. I think our disagreement about this point stems from the use of the word discriminate, which I did not interpret as legal discrimination, but the equipment ability to discern the difference between driving drunk, and driving with the window down.
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  30. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (5,242) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Moderator Society Trader

    I don't think we actually disagree on any of the particulars, for what it's worth. That said:

    Your program may be more involved in engineering research than theoretical research; I don't know. Take, for example, cancer cures: the feasibility of such "cures" is required to even make it to trial. That has very little impact on whether or not they will ever see the light of day with respect to the common man. From what I can tell from the study linked, this is more or less a proof of concept; the ability to measure atomic concentrations using lasers isn't exactly novel, but using specifically to measure alcohol is an on-going series of projects.

    The post I quoted was talking about it being used and employed; the study doesn't cover the 4th Amendment, or any concept of legality, but rather tackles some of the physical abilities and constraints of the system. That's why it's relevant. They may well be able to use it elsewhere, but not in the US; hence, the mere ability to detect BAC (which is, in itself, in question at the moment) from the system does not directly translate to its employment in the field.

    Perhaps, in that regard, points 1 and 2 are linked, but perhaps not identical.

    I disagree that the post I originally quoted was limited in scope to the practical applications of the police, but rather was focused on the employment by the police. As neither of us are the poster of the quote in question, I think we can both take away different aspects of the statement, politely disagree, and neither be wrong nor right in our own interpretation.

    As to the crux of the 4th Amendment et al: you may not have seen that in the quote I posted, but I see snippets of it, and I certainly see it as a recurring theme in the thread as a whole. Highlighting the word "discriminate" is a very useful indicator of a potential misunderstanding: however, in context of the article and the study itself, contrasted against the posts on the forum, I'm not sure how well people are really differentiating the two (legal discrimination versus technical discrimination). The equipment may or may not have any technical ability to discriminate between the two; the paper does not specify exactly how they can compensate for an effect such as a rolled down window. If it's the equivalent of a radar being foiled by a jammer - well, there's nothing in the article that insists that all folks with their windows rolled down will be pulled over.

    ....And that last point is perhaps the most important to me: the distinction between policy and technology. Even if the limitations of the LIDAR can be summed up as, "Windows down and/or A/C on: better pull the dude over, because I can't tell shit," there's no reason to automatically apply that mentality to law enforcement. None of this article - literally none of it - is being done right now, or is planned to be enforced in the United States. There's no reason why people would have to jump immediately from the limitations of a technology in a relative infancy of testing straight into the employment phase in a different country. Right now, the two simply are not linked.
  31. BoardwalkBock

    BoardwalkBock Zealot (577) Aug 18, 2012 New York

    Completely agree. While I lived in Wrightsville Beach, NC, we did not have town recycling pick ups and I would have to bring them to the recycling plant myself. I was pulled over once and a cop questioned me about being drunk at 10am. I politely pointed out my recycling, which at the time (being a college student) was full of beer from the past week. He let me go, eventually.There are way too many situations where drivers are not impaired but this device would set off a red flag. Such a waste of police time and money, not to mention the law-abiding citizens time.

    Lawsuits waiting to happen. How about old fashion police work and using their eyes, ears and focus? Oh, that's too hard for you..? Want to make it easier and spend tons of money? Too bad.
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  32. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (13,753) Mar 18, 2010 California

    At least you had the evidence in the vehicle. I went through a checkpoint one night after having taken recycling earlier in the day. I guess my car smelled a bit "beer-y" still and the officer made me follow his finger and gave me a hard time for a few minutes before letting me go.
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  33. ohiobeer29

    ohiobeer29 Defender (653) Feb 2, 2013 Ohio

    I can see people challenging this to disprove it's usefulness quickly
  34. Shroud0fdoom

    Shroud0fdoom Poo-Bah (1,888) Oct 31, 2013 Maryland

    Mouthwash also. What if I'm driving to work after using Mouthwash and their Laser detects that I might've been drinking. After 20 minutes of Sobriety Tests and been proven innocent, now I'm late for Work and Pissed! Now I'm going to take that stress out on every employee.
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  35. rauchfest

    rauchfest Initiate (0) Sep 5, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Or dog.
  36. victory4me

    victory4me Devotee (479) Oct 16, 2004 Pennsylvania

    You've never been through a checkpoint have you?
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  37. Ilyosha

    Ilyosha Initiate (0) Jun 2, 2014 Washington

    Exactly. Or other vapors. What's so special about this technology that it can differentiate alcohol vapors and other types of vapors? There are far too many flaws with this technology to be used for probably cause.
  38. rather

    rather Aspirant (202) May 31, 2013 California

    no way they would use these in rich areas.....their lawyers are well paid

    minus the stop and you're right see above
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  39. WeaponTheyFear

    WeaponTheyFear Aspirant (222) Mar 9, 2008 Connecticut

    Going have to stop using DIPAs as cologne now. :slight_frown:
  40. 57md

    57md Poo-Bah (3,018) Aug 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    First, there were more than a few references above to the need to have “probable cause” before a traffic stop. This is incorrect. Probable cause is the necessary standard to effect an arrest or conduct a search of persons or property. Police only need to have “reasonable suspicion” (which is a lower standard than PC) to conduct traffic stops of vehicles.

    Across the board, the courts have always given police more leeway and discretionary authority with automobiles as compared to dwellings. I fear that the current members of the Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) would allow the police to use a device similar to the one discussed in the article.

    Second, I understand that driving under the influence is a deadly practice and certainly not something that should be sanctioned ever, but our society has gone to extreme measures to curb this behavior and legislatures and courts have permitted the executive authority to abuse its power to an unacceptable level. The punishment for DUI is far worse than the crime in most cases, especially for people who fall on the low end of the BAC scale ~.08-.12.

    I work in the court system and I constantly see otherwise productive people have their lives and livelihood destroyed by DUI convictions. I am NOT talking about the multiple offenders or the lunatics who get behind the wheel 4-5 times the legal limit. Such offenders make up a small percentage of DUI defendants. Most DUI defendants are first or second offenders who often end up paying a penalty more severe than defendants who commit low-level crimes of violence such as simple assault.

    Like most extremist crusaders, the “Mad Mothers” have done more social harm than good. Imagine losing the ability to drive a car for 60 days. Could you keep your job? Take care of your kids or family members? Get basic everyday tasks done? Before you answer back with something trite like “it’s their own fault,” think about the social costs of such penalties. Productive people who earn wages and pay their bills and taxes are being converted into unemployed individuals who lack the ability to provide for their family so they begin to drain society rather than contribute to it.

    Laws should make society a better place to live not a worse place to live. Unfortunately, a rational balance of punishment and rehabilitation does not sell as well as the mantra “throw ‘em in jail and let god sort them out” or the easy fix of just yanking someone’s license under the archaic belief that driving is a privilege when we all know that it is an absolute economic necessity for most Americans.

    Finally, before anyone assumes that I am a multiple DUI convict, let me say that I am always very careful about driving after I drink even one or two servings. I had a friend in high school who killed a girl while drinking and driving and it has affected me greatly for close to three decades. He did not go to jail (he was VERY lucky in that respect) but he was never the same. I could not stand the idea of hurting or killing someone else so I simply don’t do it – ever!
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