Could Lasers Put An End To Drunk Driving?

Scientists in Poland say they have developed a powerful new tool for law enforcement to use against drunk drivers.

The laser-based device is capable of measuring alcohol vapor in the air, even in a passing car, The Huffington Post reports. The device measures minute changes in the laser beam to detect the presence of alcohol, such as that found on the breath of a drunk driver. Researchers from the Military University of Technology in Warsaw successfully tested the device on a vehicle that had been filled with alcoholic vapors, simulating a drunk driver.

While the device is in an early stage of development, MailOnline reports that it is capable of detecting concentrations of alcohol as low as 0.1 percent. Researchers pointed out a variety of applications, suggesting that the device may be set up on a roadside to scan passing drivers. They suggest that the device could be attached to a camera, taking a picture of a passing driver if alcohol is detected, and then sending that picture to a police officer further down the road.

The device could be used to detect a car in which a passenger has been drinking
Researchers say the device could be use to identify cars in which a passenger has been drinking

Researchers did point out that the device has obvious drawbacks. It would be entirely possible, they say, for the system to identify a car where the passenger, not the driver, is drunk or a vehicle in which alcohol was spilled. Still, they see practical uses for the system, saying it would "decrease the number of cars that have to be checked by police and, at the same time, will increase efficacy of stopping drunken drivers."

Marco Gianinetto, of the Polytechnic University of Milan, said that the system bore resemblance to familiar laser technology used by law enforcement to catch speeders, adding, "Now these researchers have demonstrated how a laser device could be effectively used for detecting drunken drivers, and thereby helping to reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol."

Researchers did admit that there were possible ways to beat the system, such as driving with the windows down, or adding laser-reflecting solar screens to the side windows, although they highlighted the fact that "such situations are very easily detected by the system, which sends this information to the policeman indicating that the car should be checked."

Despite decades of preventative measures, drunk driving continues to be a problem in the United States. The CDC reports that 30 people die every day from alcohol-related accidents and the annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $51 Billion.

As The Inquisitr recently reported, public outrage was ignited when the teenage son of wealthy parents was diagnosed with "affluenza," and given a sentence that many felt was disproportionately light for a drunk driving accident that killed four people.

[Image via Shutterstock and International Business Times]