Automakers could be required to install technology to detect drunk drivers

The technology will automatically detect when a driver is intoxicated with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.08% – the legal limit in all 50 states except Utah – and then immobilize the car.

Partly funded by the federal government through the NHTSA, the technology centers on sensors that could measure alcohol in the air around the driver, or a sensor in the start button or driving wheel to measure blood alcohol content in capillaries in a driver’s finger…

Wolf Schäfer, professor of technology and society at the Stony Brook University, said: “It’s a policy question that has ethical implications. Cars are increasingly pre-programmed and that brings up questions of responsibility for the actions of the car. Is it the programmer? The manufacturer? The person who bought the car?

“Many people accept that one shouldn’t drive drunk and if you do, you commit an infraction. But in this situation the car becomes supervisor of your conduct. So ethics-wise, one could get away with that. But should this be reported to authorities presents grave ethical problems,” Schäfer said. “The privacy issues are real because sensors collect data, and what happens to this data is a question that’s all over the place, not just with cars.”