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. TheBeerDad

    TheBeerDad Initiate (0) Sep 6, 2012 Michigan

    yes it is, they would find a reason if they really wanted to.
    russpowell likes this.
  2. TheBeerDad

    TheBeerDad Initiate (0) Sep 6, 2012 Michigan

    uh this... i think...
  3. LambicPentameter

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

    Admittedly, the language in the article is a bit ambiguous. The specific portion that I'm using to infer that any vehicle with windows down or a sun screen would be stopped is this:

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

    In this case, "such situations" refers to having windows down, etc, and the remainder of the sentence goes on to say that the system can detect if any of these "situations" are in use by the driver, and that if they were, the information would be passed along to the policeman with the indication that the car should be checked (based on these situations). But, what might be unsaid is that the system requires a minimum reading of ethanol vapor AND the presence of an open window or sun screen to flag the car. I'm inferring that the system cannot effectively detect the minimum level ethanol in the presence of an open window or sun screen because of the article's conclusion that a driver could use these techniques to avoid detection.

    I'm only worried about discrimination with respect to the device discriminating whether or not a driver is intoxicated, not whether this would be nefariously employed to unfairly target a certain class of citizen. Perhaps a poor word choice, given that discrimination so often means unfair treatment towards a given class of citizen by people of authority, rather than a simple matter of discerning between two states intoxication/impairment. The idea is that if the system cannot effectively distinguish between an actual intoxicated person and a non-intoxicated person, then it is essentially useless--at the very least, no more useful than the methods law enforcement already use to detect and stop intoxicated drivers.

    You're absolutely right that we're quite a few steps from this being employed as an actual law enforcement tactic, and to that end, I'm not particularly worried about the system. I'm merely debating the merits of using the system in the first place, based on how effective it's shown to be based on the study information. Ultimately, this entire discussion is an intellectual exercise, so I'm not sure why speculation about the usefulness of the system in a likely real world situation is any less fruitful than any other discussion about the system.
    Roguer likes this.
  4. anticipation23

    anticipation23 Initiate (0) May 2, 2013 Wisconsin

    This is misinformation, I know several people who have "legally" grown marijuana in their homes and have had cops/law enforcement agencies have warrants based on the data from infrared scanning and power company bills. It is a known fact that police infrared surveys are legal to do, and have a huge precedent even in states were medical marijuana use is sanctioned. Just wanted to point that out.
  5. mudbug

    mudbug Defender (621) Mar 27, 2009 Oregon

    This is all very true and one statistic that comes to mind is this: Even if we could somehow remove every single driver out there that has imbibed ANY alcohol There would still be 90+% of automobile accidents that we have now. Since accidents where the person has been found to have alcohol in their system and in no way was the cause of the accident get charged and become an alcohol related accident number the true value of all these alcohol measures becomes painfully clear that they have a very minimal (almost negligible) effect on overall driver safety. What they do have is a very large impact on government and legal workers pockets, follow the money. My simple question to folks that rail against alcohol and driving is this, Would you rather get in the back seat of a car driven by a trained professional driver with a BAC of 1.0 or Into the backseat of a car driven by a novice teenager with a cell phone? You pick.
    russpowell and 57md like this.
  6. beerindaglass

    beerindaglass Initiate (0) Feb 20, 2013 Florida

    Not sure what checkpoints have to do with this thread, especially considering checkpoint location information has to be made available to the public in advance. Completely apples and oranges.
  7. Brutus627

    Brutus627 Aspirant (253) Feb 3, 2014 Maine

    This technology, for the people that think it is far off for small towns, is probably a lot closer than you think. I work in the small town of north berwick and they've been using laser designators for speed detection for a while now...Doesn't sound like this technology is much more advanced than that. As far as all this probable cause business goes, the statement made earlier involving reasonable suspicion is always going to hold up if there are legitimate findings once your pulled over. Police pull over people for swerving,checking inspection, etc (x infinity). I think a lot of times things like these exist solely as deterrence, if people think you are capable of doing this maybe they'll be more leary of driving drunk (not a bad thing at all)
  8. beerindaglass

    beerindaglass Initiate (0) Feb 20, 2013 Florida

    police states are awesome.
    russpowell and Brutus627 like this.
  9. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,547) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    What if the could they going to pull over every car that gets a hit? Is it sensitive enough to generate a level of sobriety and precipitate an arrest? There is no probable cause unless they were erratic is their driving or some other trigger that warrants a look. I'm against drinking and driving, I always limit to two of whatever always, but your getting into areas here that without probable cause your being detained, and are against unlawful search and seizure. How does the ethanol in cars impact this? Lots of reasons why it won't fly I think.
  10. RummyRedbeard

    RummyRedbeard Disciple (322) Mar 8, 2013 Colorado

    Seems like a waste of time and money... pretty fitting for the justice department of the United States.
    russpowell and rather like this.
  11. HRamz3

    HRamz3 Initiate (0) Feb 9, 2010 Pitcairn

    Exactly. It's a non-issue. Don't be a d-bag and drink & drive.

    Though using the 2nd Amedment as a comparison doesn't really work. Driving is a privilege, not a right.
  12. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    From wikipedia:
    Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S.27 (2001), held that the use of a thermal imaging device from a public vantage point to monitor the radiation of heat from a person's home was a "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, and thus required a warrant. Because the police in this case did not have a warrant, the Court reversed Kyllo's conviction for growing marijuana.

    Its legal WITH A WARRANT. Without a warrant, it is an illegal search.
  13. anticipation23

    anticipation23 Initiate (0) May 2, 2013 Wisconsin

    Thanks for that clarification, good knowledge to have when I'm back in Denver :grinning: Unfortunately road-stops don't necessitate warrants for legal search or seizure, and as others have said the 4th Amendment was gutted and courts have been ruling in favor of very loose PC cases. This is what happens when the correctional industry is privatized, this is what happens Larry.
  14. ipamonster

    ipamonster Initiate (91) Jun 18, 2013 Rhode Island

    They should come up with a system that disables text/SMS capabilites on phones in the driver's seat. Way more prevelant, and numerous studies indicate that someone actively texting or reading texts perform worse on driving tests than someone that is .10 BAC.
    paulys55, dedbeer, Roguer and 2 others like this.
  15. RichardMNixon

    RichardMNixon Devotee (486) Jun 24, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Perhaps the updated the article since you last read it, but your link specifies that the article claims to be able to measure the alcohol exhaled by someone who is at 0.1% BAC, not 0.1% in the vapor. However, that narrows the target from the laser - it's not enough just to hit the window, they have to hit the puff of air you just exhaled, like shooting an apple off the front of your face.

    They didn't move the car during the experiment, and they don't disclose how long the measurement takes to get reliable results. There is no way this will work on a moving car. I doubt it would even work reliably at a red light what with having to aim the laser at the precise height of any given car/passenger combo. You can't scan a truck at the same height as the Fiesta in the paper.
  16. Feel_the_Darkness

    Feel_the_Darkness Initiate (0) Oct 17, 2012 Virginia

    As a police officer who works the graveyard shift and spends a good amount of time dealing with alcohol related violations behind the wheel, I can tell each and every one of you with great confidence that you're overreacting about a piece of wonky ass technology some crazy Polish bastards thought up. Please direct any and all further inquiries to the "That shit is a waste of time" box.
    rightcoast7, dedbeer, Roguer and 4 others like this.
  17. kdb150

    kdb150 Devotee (452) Mar 8, 2012 Pennsylvania

    I think you badly overestimate what cause is actually needed for a traffic stop. All the cops need to do is say that they saw you swerve, and boom - probable cause.

    Now, probable cause for performing field sobriety tests is a different story. If this thing flags your car and you have no other signs of intoxication once you are pulled over, it may be possible to sue the cops for making you go through a sobriety test anyways. But the bar is higher for that. For merely pulling you over, the cops pretty much just need a rational reason for doing so.
    russpowell likes this.
  18. nlmartin

    nlmartin Meyvn (1,472) Jul 26, 2005 Ohio

    Probable cause is can be anything the officer says.
    russpowell likes this.
  19. HRamz3

    HRamz3 Initiate (0) Feb 9, 2010 Pitcairn

    That's easy. I'll take my chances with the person who may use poor judgement over the person who's judgement is impaired.
  20. LambicPentameter

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

    But if you think about it, the ease with which a cop can identify something that makes a traffic stop plausible is what makes this device even more ridiculous. You're right--all they need to do is see you swerve once and they can pull you over--and I think that would probably fall under the category of reasonable suspicion, rather than probable cause. And in that case, a swerve is something that actually has a possible correlation to intoxication. An open window (or sun screen) is not.

    With how easy it is to identify a characteristic that has a reasonable likelihood of producing someone who might be intoxicated, it seems silly to rely on a machine that has to include anyone who has their windows down or a screen of some kind on their window to be checked.

    My point is that a cop wouldn't be driving down the road and see someone with windows down and/or a screen on their car and think that was a reasonable suspicion to pull them over, so this device shouldn't be using that standard either. If the device didn't default to using those indicators as a reason to have cars checked, I wouldn't really have an issue with it.

    But overreact to and waste time about shit is mostly what we do around here :wink:
  21. JArmour15

    JArmour15 Initiate (0) Jan 2, 2014 Pennsylvania

    I appreciate your response but it is incorrect.

    This device will likely never be used, at least in this country so it's a non issue. However, if it was used I highly doubt any DUI convictions would come because of it and I would venture to say that any subsequent charges filed due to this being probable cause for a traffic stop would be dismissed. But again this is just speculation on my part of course.
  22. RichardMNixon

    RichardMNixon Devotee (486) Jun 24, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Am I in a hurry? The guy at 1.0 is most likely dead or in a coma, so I don't see much risk of an accident.

    If you meant 0.1, then I'd prefer the teenager. I can slap the phone out of his hand, I can't slap the alcohol out of the pro.
    HRamz3 likes this.
  23. Feel_the_Darkness

    Feel_the_Darkness Initiate (0) Oct 17, 2012 Virginia

    At 1.0 you're fucking dead buddy. Your body starts shutting down way before that. Unless you're a freak of nature, or Scottish.
    RichardMNixon likes this.
  24. RichardMNixon

    RichardMNixon Devotee (486) Jun 24, 2012 Pennsylvania

    I first looked up extremes and people have lived over 1.0, but it definitely seems to be the exception. I think 0.40 is where people start dying.
  25. kdb150

    kdb150 Devotee (452) Mar 8, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Just because it is silly and outrageous doesn't mean it's not legitimate or legal. Two different arguments. And just because a cop gets a hit on a car doesn't mean he automatically HAS to pull the car over. If he sees that the hit is because the window is down, he can just move on.

    Of course, if it is the dead of winter and somebody is driving around with their window open, that might be a sign that something is up. I've opened windows in winter time to help stay alert while driving tired, or after drinking. I absolutely think that is reasonable suspicion to pull someone over, as their driving behavior is out of the ordinary.
  26. LambicPentameter

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

    We don't know if the cop will be given information for why the car was marked to be checked. If the system just sends a "flagged for stop" message, then the cop has no way to further decide whether to pull over or not. Sure, if the system says "flagged: ethanol vapor present" or "flagged: windows down, no reading" or "flagged: window obstruction, no reading", the cop could then decide whether or not to pull the car over. Of course, the cop wouldn't have any additional information to help them decide whether or not to pull a car over for having windows down or a sun screen. So does the cop just do it at random? Never pulls over a car that's been flagged for any reason besides the ethanol vapor? If the latter, then why have the device flag cars based on windows being down/covered by a sun screen at all? The answer is because it's how the makers of this device can speak to the ease with which this device is tricked. As I noted earlier, if the device only flags cars that have ethanol vapor in the car, I don't really have a problem with it. It's just not terribly effective if it can be so easily fooled.

    My use of the word "silly" was to point out that the device doesn't provide any effective identification of an intoxicated driver beyond what a police officer can identify using his eyes. It's silly because the device would likely cost a lot of money to implement and not really improve the identification of intoxicated drivers in any meaningful way. I noted much earlier in the thread that I don't think people who were pulled over after this machine flagged them and then were found to be intoxicated would have any legal objection.

    And yes, windows down--all the way down, at any rate--would be strange in the dead of winter. But it seems like you wouldn't need to have them all the way down to trick the device, and I see people driving in winter with windows cracked all the time, usually when they are smoking a cigarette. Speaking of, might a cigarette and the residual smoke trick the device as well? We know a sun screen would, which wouldn't be suspicious under any circumstances. The point being that there are too many ways to trick the machine to make it an effective method of identification.
  27. Jbrews

    Jbrews Aspirant (280) Aug 6, 2013 New Hampshire

    I've said this 1000 times. Just don't drink and drive. Doesn't take a friggin genius to figure that one out. I've never had a problem with this. If I plan to drink I don't drive. If I planned to drink and now how to drive, I don't drink. Quit being irresponsible and bitching about probable cause. You're already guilty.
    Feel_the_Darkness and HRamz3 like this.
  28. ASak10

    ASak10 Initiate (0) Jan 2, 2014 Colorado

    LOL. No.
    Feel_the_Darkness likes this.
  29. ASak10

    ASak10 Initiate (0) Jan 2, 2014 Colorado

    So my wife and I can't go out to dinner, each have a beer, and one of us drive home? Ok. What if I have 2 beers over a 3 hour dinner? Can I drive then? Is that irresponsible? I'd love to live in your world, where everything is apparently black and white.
  30. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (5,233) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Moderator Society Trader

    The only thing I'd add to that is that, again, no policemen have been quoted saying that they would be pulling people over because their windows are down. That is entirely based on the interpretation of the limitations of the device by a scientist - who is, himself, likely about as knowledgeable about legal matters as we all are here. :wink:

    None of that, then, translates to police officers pulling over everyone who has windows down, A/C on, etc. And since that is the case, I agree that from what we currently think we know about the system, it seems unlikely that it could be effectively or legally employed in the US. "Do you know why I pulled you over? That's right; windows were down. Time to walk a straight line, drunkie!"

    I think they're both relevant discussions - I just think they are two different discussions. The scientist in another country hypothesizing about how it might be employed is really only speaking on how to technically overcome the limitations. He's not worried about the 4th Amendment or Supreme Court rulings...because he's not from the United States. So I think people should clearly separate the issues: 1) Would this kind of technology be legal in the US, and if so, under what circumstances, and how would it be employed? versus 2) Would this thing actually work at all on a moving car, at a level that can detect legal intoxication, without being easily fooled? #1 has to assume that #2 has already been solved, after all, otherwise it's a completely silly question. :slight_smile:
    LambicPentameter likes this.
  31. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (5,233) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Moderator Society Trader

    The other great thing about "ZERO TOLERANCE!" concepts are that they don't take into account the fourth dimension: time. Is it OK to drive 5 minutes after having a beer? What about an hour? If not, then where's the line? After midnight, like a booze-obsessed Gremlin? 24 hours? Can you never drive again???

    In all seriousness, this line of thinking comes up in my profession, where it is emphatically stated that you should never drive after consuming any amount of alcohol - any at all. If that's the case, and there is no such thing as a biological half life, and any amount of alcohol not only automatically impairs you, but never apparently is processed by your body, then you can never drive, period.

    ....Actually, that sounds awesome. I'm not going to work tomorrow; I'm calling in "drunk" from last Friday. :grinning:
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  32. Consuela

    Consuela Initiate (67) Jan 9, 2014 California

    I hope you're not a lawyer, and if you aren't you should also refrain from giving legal advice (because that would also be against the law - George Clooney did time for it in O Brother...). Automobiles are different than houses, where privacy protections are at their highest. Because of the inherent mobile-nature of automobiles, they are subject to less scrutiny when it comes to searches. Moreover, there is less privacy because anyone can see what you're doing in your car simply by looking into your windows. Cops can look into your car with their flashlights for whatever reason they want, and they can ping your car with radar to get your speed, etc. AND for all these "searches" they don't need a warrant - or even a warrant to seize evidence (in most cases) because of the automobile exception to the warrant requirement.

    Secondly, to stop a car you only need REASONABLE SUSPICION that a crime has been committed. Probable cause, a higher standard, is required to make an arrest or seize evidence. Thus, stops generally go like this:

    1. Officer sees traffic infraction (probable cause to arrest for ticket) or Officer Observes erratic driving (Reasonable suspicion to pull over and investigate whether drunk)
    2. Officer contacts driver, detects alcohol (reasonable suspicion that drunk - can begin tests now).
    3. Officer administers field sobriety/hand-held breath tests (if fail then probable cause to arrest for DUI, if pass then reasonable suspicion disappears and officer must let go, or cite for traffic violation if committed).

    Next, please stop with the "OMG YOU HAD 1 BEER AND DROVE YOU ARE A TERRIBLE PERSON". Here is a Blood-alcohol chart showing that even the tiniest female can have 1 drink, drive, and not be over the limit. Note that "driving skills impaired" on this chart applies to even a .02%. Technically, because I'm a fatass, I could have 3 drinks in an hour and still be okay.

    I don't foresee cops being able to stop a car simply based on this laser. I think it can provide a good warning system for cops to tail cars whose drivers may be drunk, but it would not provide enough to pull a car over without some erratic driving or traffic violations. Again, you need reasonable suspicion to pull a car over, and this automated laser simply doesn't have enough to supply a police officer with that standard.

    1) Passengers - could be a passenger (it would also mean that cops would be able to stop all DD's because their passengers were emitting alcohol)
    2) It can detect alcohol vapors, but not BAC. Again, its not illegal to drive with .07 BAC. Courts will not give police officers unlimited discretion to pull over ANYBODY with ANY CONCENTRATION of alcohol in their car simply based on this laser.

    Again, cops will likely be able to use this as a tool to spot drunk drivers, but without more, like a traffic violation, or erratic driving, they wont be able to pull anyone over.

    And I'm spent and don't feel like writing more. Enjoy.
    #112 Consuela, Jun 12, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2014
  33. ASak10

    ASak10 Initiate (0) Jan 2, 2014 Colorado

    Ok sorry, that was a little harsh, tried to edit my last post but it was too late. And I don't feel like typing it all out again. But in a nutshell, between overcoming sovereign immunity, the difficulty of bringing a 1983 claim, and a lack of damages, this is not a claim that would be viable. I've had colleagues lose their shirts in cases where they lost at trial after their client was shot in the back, for example. Suing the police is very, very hard. Lots of suits may be brought, very few are successful.
  34. Jbrews

    Jbrews Aspirant (280) Aug 6, 2013 New Hampshire

    As someone who has survived two Drunk Drivers totaling both cars I was in...nope.(The DD hit us, the sober driving car) I'm glad I'm in one piece and that the 2nd girl that hit made it through. First DD is dead. I love my good beer but when I know I'm getting behind the wheel I just don't drink. Maybe we're lucky enough to not have to drive to most places or grab cabs. I've know way too many people who have been popped for a beer or two. It doesn't ruin my night or anything. To each their own. To your point and in fairness to you and your wife. A beer at dinner, probably not gonna put you over the edge and is out of your system. But...if I'm out and I haven't had much and have a glass of Imperial Stout even with dinner there are times that I've said to myself man I'm glad I don't have to drive home tonight. My point was if you are trying to count beers and justify and worry about probable cause in a hearing then you've already been busted. You're still going to pay court fees. It's just not worth it, ya know.
    #114 Jbrews, Jun 12, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2014
  35. ASak10

    ASak10 Initiate (0) Jan 2, 2014 Colorado

    Sorry you've been in those accidents. Trust me, I see the impacts every day. I've represented people who have been paralyzed in drunk driving accidents, I've represented families who have lost their loved ones in drunk driving accidents, I know the devastation. Driving after a beer, however, is not drunk driving. I highly doubt your friends who were popped only had a beer or two, unless they were drinking only one or two DFH 120 Minute IPAs. You can't get popped for having a .02. Even in Colorado we have a lower, DWAI offense, but you still have to have a BAC of .05 (but under .08, over .08 is DUI).
  36. LambicPentameter

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

    I have a feeling that the people you know who've been popped "for a beer or two" are severely underselling the amount of drinking they actually did. Just look at the chart that @Consuela provided above.

    That said, I can understand your personal philosophy on the matter, having been on the victim end of two drunk driving incidents. That's truly terrible. I just think you should be aware of the fact that the vast majority of people will be less impaired driving after 1-2 "normal" abv beers (in a reasonable amount of time--an hour or more) than many completely sober people are due to other distractions (phones, passengers, loud music, etc).
    Roguer likes this.
  37. ASak10

    ASak10 Initiate (0) Jan 2, 2014 Colorado

    Driving while texting is actually much more dangerous than driving while intoxicated - 6 times more so per the NHSTA.
  38. Jbrews

    Jbrews Aspirant (280) Aug 6, 2013 New Hampshire

    HAHAHA Spot on, the drunk girl #2 TOLD US she was texting when she hit us, completely shit housed. Completely agree with you. Ironically this happened in front of the Police station and it took a squad car around 8 minutes to get there. I was pinned in the back seat but could crawl out the front. I kept a piece of the car for good luck that was shot off down the street:wink: I worry my kids some day won't think of this when they drive :slight_frown: Only can hope to teach them well. Dad will pick you up no questions asked anytime and if you text and drive your car goes bye bye
    #118 Jbrews, Jun 12, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2014
  39. Providence

    Providence Crusader (708) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    Unbelievable. If you're texting while driving drunk you may as well just have a Panda beer driving your car.
    russpowell, Roguer and pjs234 like this.
  40. Jbrews

    Jbrews Aspirant (280) Aug 6, 2013 New Hampshire

    The more I think of this whole thread I'm gonna bow out as people don't need a downer on here and I don't look down on anyone. Just be smart to yourself and loved ones and everything will be all good.
    LambicPentameter likes this.
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