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OWI convictions may come with new BAC technology

Good news for individuals who have been convicted on drunk driving charges: Bulky, inconvenient ignition interlocks may soon be a thing of the past. New information from the Obama administration and several automakers - including those in Michigan - indicates that previous efforts to streamline the devices will continue into the coming years. The partnership, which includes Detroit's Big Three auto manufacturers, is working to create a Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety that will make life easier for those that have been convicted of a drunk driving charge. Researchers from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration are working to develop more sophisticated systems that might even be useful in every vehicle that comes off the assembly line.

A new partnership agreement now extends program provisions for a laboratory research project designed to produce new interlock technology. In the near future, drivers may be able to test their blood alcohol content simply by putting their hands on their steering wheels. Advanced breath detection technology is also in the works, eliminating the painstaking process often involved in using current breath tests. Automakers have committed to contribute at least $1.2 million to the research endeavors, which will likely assist government researchers with implementing and deploying the technology on a massive scale.

Lawmakers acknowledge that the fight against OUI offenses and related concerns is critical for preserving public safety. In 2012, the fatality rate for drunk-driving crashes rose by about 4.6 percent, which is the first increase that has been seen in the past six years. Road deaths as a whole have also increased.

Michigan residents who have been convicted of an OWI charge may benefit from the increased accuracy and usability of these future devices. Qualified criminal defense attorneys can help these defendants learn more about the technology used to convict drunk driving suspects, providing them with the information needed to make the best decisions about their criminal cases.

Source: The Detroit News, "NHTSA, automakers reach deal to extend drunken driving research" David Shepardson, Dec. 23, 2013

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