Police May Someday Be Using New Technology to Catch Drunk Drivers

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama. In order to pull you over for drunk driving, police must have probable cause. Probable cause can be anything that leads an officer to suspect you may have been drinking or breaking the law. If you were speeding, if you swerve outside the lines, or if you break the rules of the road, officers can pull you over. If an officer believes you may have been drinking, you may be asked to submit to a breath test.

Because officers are basing their stops based on whether they believe someone has broken the law, these stops can be subject to human error. For example, there have been many recent reports of police engaging in racial profiling when making decisions about who to stop. The Washington Post reports that African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to be stopped by police, and that they are also more likely to face searches. Black and Hispanic drivers are also two times more likely to be stopped than white drivers.

According to Popular Science, officers may soon have other tools to help them make decisions about who to stop. Computer scientists have developed an algorithm that would identify drunk individuals by how flushed their face appears to be. When we drink, our blood vessels expand, increasing blood flow, and resulting in a red glow or “flush.” In a study of the new technology, the algorithm was able to identify drunk individuals based on how flushed their skin appeared. The algorithm was also able to compare sober faces and drunk ones and identify the drunk individuals based on the temperature of the individual’s nose and forehead. The computer program was able to identify drunk individuals with a 90 percent accuracy.

Yet, no system for identifying drunk drivers is 100 percent accurate. Officers who use field sobriety tests are subject to human error. Individuals who have certain illnesses could produce false positives on these tests. Even breathalyzer tests have their flaws. Improperly calibrated or maintained machinery, or improperly used machinery can result in false or inaccurate results.

If you are facing a DUI charge in Birmingham, Alabama, it is important to understand your rights. A DUI conviction could impact your right to drive, your criminal record, your driving record, and cost you money, time, and even affect your freedom. The drunk driving defense lawyers at Shockley & Ransom: Attorneys at Law in Birmingham, Alabama understand the ways in which field sobriety tests and breathalyzer tests can go wrong. We understand the ways in which officers can mistakenly make assumptions about certain drivers. Whether you believe you were racially profiled or wrongfully stopped, our firm may be able to help.

Our firm understands how much a DUI can impact your life. We will take the time to review the evidence gathered against you and understand how the evidence was gathered. When your freedom, your right to drive, and your reputation are on the line, you need Shockley & Ransom: Attorneys at Law.