Vice Squad
Friday, August 06, 2004
Car Breathalyzer Still Has Some Bugs

Remember the alco-lock mentioned a few days ago, the device that won't allow a car to start until a breathalyzer test is passed? Well, a correspondent with The Guardian tried it out and, well, it didn't seem to work for him. The journalist wasn't trying to fool the system, either, but many people do; from The Guardian article:
"What's foolproof?" said Ian Marples, a director of Alcohol Countermeasure Systems, the Canadian company chosen to introduce the system in Britain and which is testing it for the department. He expects a large percentage of the 20,000 people banned each year for drink driving in Britain to try to cheat if they are ordered to have the lock fitted.

"In our experience drink drivers will try anything. Some have installed air pumps to their cars, others blow up balloons and connect them to the mouthpiece, others try to filter out the alcohol by blowing through cat litter and charcoal and some even try to fool it by blowing through 20 feet of tubing," said Mr Marples.

"The creative ingenuity of drink drivers is amazing to behold. The alco-lock is predicated on the basis that users will try to defeat it. Its greatest weakness is that it cannot identify between different people. But the computer looks for just about everything. Nothing's foolproof but it is pretty difficult to beat it."

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