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France's Bold Drunk-Driving Legislation - Every Car To Carry a Breathalyzer 706

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-you'll-get-people-trying-to-beat-their-high-score dept.
Zothecula writes "It is a great irony that alcohol should be legislated into becoming man's most commonly used recreational drug, as it's the only drug that causes more harm to others than to the user. This is most evident on our roads, where even in first world countries with low road tolls, alcohol still accounts for between a third and a half of road deaths. Now France is to attempt a novel solution — from July of this year, it will become law in France to have a working breathalyzer in every car on the road, with enforcement beginning November 1."
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France's Bold Drunk-Driving Legislation - Every Car To Carry a Breathalyzer

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  • the only drug? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Surt (22457) on Monday February 27, 2012 @01:56PM (#39175455) Homepage Journal

    Meth has fueled an awful lot of violent crime.

    • by aBaldrich (1692238) on Monday February 27, 2012 @02:00PM (#39175543)
      Heresy! How you dare! Alcohol has to be the one and only bad drug, otherwise you can't legalize pot... ... ... ...
    • Re:the only drug? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 27, 2012 @02:00PM (#39175547)

      Meth has fueled an awful lot of violent crime.

      Correction, prohibition has fueled on awful lot of violent crime.

      • Re:the only drug? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 27, 2012 @02:09PM (#39175685)

        Correction, prohibition has fueled on awful lot of violent crime.

        This is the correct answer. Be it prohibition of alcohol, meth, pot, etc... the illegal status causes a great deal of the violence.

        We'd have a lot less garage explosions if methamphetamines could be produced in a professional lab somewhere, with QA and such.

        • Re:the only drug? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Nidi62 (1525137) on Monday February 27, 2012 @03:33PM (#39177091)

          Correction, prohibition has fueled on awful lot of violent crime.

          This is the correct answer. Be it prohibition of alcohol, meth, pot, etc... the illegal status causes a great deal of the violence.

          Yes, all of those addicts that break into peoples houses (empty at the time or not) or rob people on the streets only do it because the drugs are illegal. Remember, drugs-legal or not-fuel all kinds of crime besides just what is involved in the creation and distribution of the drugs.

    • Re:the only drug? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday February 27, 2012 @02:02PM (#39175585)

      Meth has fueled an awful lot of violent crime.

      Ever seen those Faces of Meth advertisements? It's quite harmful to the user as well as the bystander. Alcohol on the other hand encourages severe lapses in judgement and reaction when operating heavy machinery, which usually kills people nearby but leaves the drunk unaffected, if only because liquor makes their body a doughy mass to be thrown about while sober people tense up and break bones and crap.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 27, 2012 @02:09PM (#39175687)

        Alcohol on the other hand encourages severe lapses in judgment and reaction when operating heavy machinery, which usually kills people nearby but leaves the drunk unaffected

        Then the obvious solution is to get the sober drivers off the road.

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          Then the obvious solution is to get the sober drivers off the road.

          No, the obvious solution is to get the human out of the driver's seat. The only reason alcohol is a problem on the roads is that cars don't drive themselves. In ten or fifteen years, the drunk driving deaths will begin to rapidly converge towards zero. (Amusingly, unless current drunk driving laws are revised, it will probably still be illegal to sit in the driver's seat while drunk even if you're not actually driving the vehicle because

          • Re:the only drug? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Eponymous Coward (6097) on Monday February 27, 2012 @03:03PM (#39176655)

            I don't think self-driving cars will really take off until manufacturers are protected from lawsuits and municipalities find better ways to fund police departments (presumably self-driving cars wouldn't speed, run traffic lights, fail to signal turns, etc...).

            Say self driving cars were to suddenly become popular and also assume that road deaths plummet. Thousands of lives are saved every year. Say also that a new car comes out with a software bug that leads to hundreds of deaths. Even though the net benefit is thousands of lives saved, the glitch that kills a hundred will lead to crushing lawsuits. What manufacturer wants to take on that kind of liability?

            • Not quite... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Roger W Moore (538166) on Monday February 27, 2012 @03:45PM (#39177247) Journal

              I don't think self-driving cars will really take off until manufacturers are protected from lawsuits

              Correction, self-driving cars will really take off when manufacturers do not need protection from lawsuits. If they need to be protected from lawsuits then their system is not good enough.

              • Re:Not quite... (Score:4, Insightful)

                by Kjella (173770) on Monday February 27, 2012 @04:49PM (#39178095) Homepage

                Try randomly running out into the road from the sidewalk, alternatively from behind street corners, large parked cars and other cover at high speed and see how long it takes until you end up dead or in the hospital. I can guarantee you those unmanned cars are going to end up running some people over, just like manned cars do. They are going to run into freak oil spills or blow a tire in 130 km/h on the Autobahn and other surprise conditions. And even medical equipment sometimes fails spectacularly. That's even assuming you can guarantee optimal behavior in every case - which you can't - and that there's no bugs which I think is near impossible in a system with so many fuzzy variables. People will sue over all sorts of sensor input that maybe, possibly the car could have reacted to. I don't think you'll get anywhere until you have a law to not judge computer drivers harsher than human drivers. Like, would you have convicted a human of driving recklessly under the circumstances? If no, then case dismissed.

      • Have you forgotten about cirrhosis of the liver? Not to mention divorce, child and spousal abuse, well, I guess that goes back to harm to other people. But alcohol isn't exactly harmless either.

      • Re:the only drug? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 19thNervousBreakdown (768619) <davec-slashdot@l ... et minus caffein> on Monday February 27, 2012 @03:16PM (#39176843) Homepage

        Alcohol is far from the only drug that encourages severe lapses in judgement. Hell, I wouldn't even put it at #1 for that--go pop 10-20mg of Ambien and don't immediately get in bed. Have fun calling all your exes and fishing your keys out of the toilet in the morning. Don't step in the bowl of tomato soup with raw hamburger crumbled in it next to your bed.

        I've never tried it myself so I can't speak for the actual effects like I can for Ambien, but people suck dick for crack. I've wanted a lot of things really really bad, and I've never considered sucking a dick for it--tell me those people are making that decision without personality modification. I can tell you that when you do coke, you're not yourself, not by a longshot, and it's easy to make terrible decisions on that too. I've seen my share of fights started or exacerbated by it. Just about any drug seems to shut down inhibitions. Maybe it's a part of the brain that's just not as able to cope with slightly-off chemistry, I don't know, but I do know they all have an effect to some degree.

        Other drugs get lumped in with alcohol because when you're on other drugs, there's a good chance you're drunk too, and it's easy to test if you're currently drunk. The other tests only really tell if you're a user of those. I've also seen the cops show up when people were on stuff other than alcohol, and they had no clue, so chalk up at least a couple coke/other-induced incidents that aren't on the records.

        The fact is, every drug I know of changes your personality to some degree or another. Pot is a major outlier, in that it has a very small effect (in an experienced user) and although it may make someone's thought process "dopey", it doesn't significantly effect the higher, rational decisions like, "should I fight this fucker for not passing me the frisbee?" or "should I steal this car?" But just because pot is relatively (not totally, not by a long shot, and I love me some weed) benign, don't let that fool you into thinking alcohol is the only drug that needs to be carefully controlled.

        • Re:the only drug? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by swb (14022) on Monday February 27, 2012 @04:26PM (#39177799)

          I think a lot of reason that "people suck dick for crack" is that among the demographic who wants to smoke crack but can't afford to, "sucking dick" is just generally considered an easy way to make money.

          It's really not that crack is so desirable, it's just that sucking dick is the skillset and occupation they can most easily engage in to make money quickly.

    • I know france isn't the US and they write their own laws, but isn't this basically "Guilty until proven innocent"?

      • Guilty of what? Being required to have a breathanalyser in the car is no different than being required to have e.g. seatbelts.

        • by Entropius (188861)

          No, it *is* different. No amount of caution can stop you from being in an auto accident, and having seatbelts in the car can save your life if you are.

          It is very, very easy to not drive drunk. Why should the majority of us who manage to live our lives in such a way that we run no risk of driving drunk pay for breathalyzers?

          • by berashith (222128) on Monday February 27, 2012 @03:13PM (#39176787)

            a problem occurs if you dont think that you are drunk, but in fact you are over the limit. A device like this could help.

            I learned a good lesson long ago to solve the "maybe" issue... If you arent sure if you are too drunk to drive home, order a shot. Now you are certain.

  • by realityimpaired (1668397) on Monday February 27, 2012 @01:56PM (#39175463)

    who will be paying for it to be installed in my car? (speaking as a theoretical Frenchwoman... haven't lived in France since 1997). Those things are expensive, and beyond the means of some people who own cars.

    • by Krokant (956646) on Monday February 27, 2012 @02:02PM (#39175575)
      The French automotive society is selling breathalyzer tests for single use for 1 euro (say: 1 US dollar) per piece. It suffices to carry two of those in the car.
      • by poetmatt (793785)

        So roughly an extra $1500 to have a car for 5 years?

        wow.

      • You need two because if you use one of your disposable devices, then you no longer have a working breathalyzer in your car.

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday February 27, 2012 @02:04PM (#39175609) Journal
      TFA said:

      As far as the breathalyzer required by French authorities, a US$2.00 disposable item will be acceptable, but already everyone is being encouraged to buy such items in pairs so that one can be used to test, or for a friend to use, and still to have the required one to drive home with.

      To which you replied:

      Those things are expensive, and beyond the means of some people who own cars.

      I wonder who these people who can afford French petrol and diesel prices, but can't afford $4 are.

      • by Dynedain (141758)

        I believe the GP meant that breathalyzer interlock devices were required. And those are indeed expensive.

        The summary doesn't make the distinction, and of course no-one on /. RTFA.

        The GP's assumption and concern makes sense. Requiring disposable breathalyzers in all cars doesn't seem like it would do anything to prevent drunk driving. Installing interlocks in all cars would, but is very expensive and introduces a large burden on the entire driving populace.

      • by khallow (566160)
        Reading this, it's still worth noting that they could simply not require these at all and save French society tens of millions of dollars. I also wonder what should happen, if the cheap breathalyzer should turn out to be insufficient to comply with the law. You know, kind of like a bait and switch, where a cheap alternative is offered and then taken away when the law passes?
      • I wonder who these people who can afford French petrol and diesel prices, but can't afford $4 are.

        Probably same as the Americans who can afford American gas prices, but can't afford a mandatory $500/month insurance policy on top of it.

      • If it's going to cost $2 every time I want to start my car, that would significantly increase the costs of running a vehicle.

        I was going to make a point about the hassle of having to go get new ones when you need them, but I assume they'd start selling them at gas stations so you just pick them up when you're fueling up.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      FTFA:
      As far as the breathalyzer required by French authorities, a US$2.00 disposable item will be acceptable, but already everyone is being encouraged to buy such items in pairs so that one can be used to test, or for a friend to use, and still to have the required one to drive home with.

      If you can afford fuel you can afford a $2 breathalyzer.

  • With the penalty for drunk driving being confiscation of the vehicle, so that non drinkers dont have to pay for this equipment
    • Ignore that, they just require a $2 disposable thing, so non drinkers wont have to spend money
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Entropius (188861)

      This. $2 is still $2. Why should I spend my $2 on something I am never going to use, just because the nanny state wants to nanny some other group of folks?

  • by scorp1us (235526) on Monday February 27, 2012 @01:58PM (#39175519) Journal

    I can't think this is a good idea. At least in the US, where our BAC limits are 25% of what actually impairs driving. Don't get me wrong, I'm not for anyone driving drunk and injuring or killing someone else (what you do to yourself I do not care about) but the whole BAC thing is an estimate that is cut in half for "good measure" then cut in half again.

    You can read more about the whole "Drunk Driving Exception" here [duicentral.com]

    • by JamesP (688957)

      THIS

      Besides, there will always be idiots who will crash their car after using mouthwash, and then more idiots that will go "OMG DRUNK DRIVER"

      What I think would work:

      - Mandatory (lower) speed limit depending on the BAC. Wanna drive after 1 scotch? No problem, but you're not going over 35MPH
      - Actively training drivers to driving while impaired.

      And of course, proper public transportation or affordable taxis so that getting home at night is not an issue.

      • by Eil (82413)

        What I think would work:

        - Mandatory (lower) speed limit depending on the BAC. Wanna drive after 1 scotch? No problem, but you're not going over 35MPH
        - Actively training drivers to driving while impaired.

        I nearly asphyxiated from laughing so hard, but SWEET JEEBUS, it was worth it.

        That was the funniest thing I've read on Slashdot in years. Thank you, sir.

    • by afidel (530433) on Monday February 27, 2012 @02:08PM (#39175671)
      Dude, if you think US BAC limits are low you need to get out more. The limit in France is .05% just like most of the EU.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by afidel (530433)
        Wow, pointing out that the BAC standard in most of the world is lower than the US is flaimbait now? I hate how Slashdot moderation has turned into "-1 I disagree with you" over the last few years.
    • by uvajed_ekil (914487) on Monday February 27, 2012 @02:16PM (#39175801)

      I can't think this is a good idea. At least in the US, where our BAC limits are 25% of what actually impairs driving.

      What are you talking about? While I do drink and think .08% BAC is a little low, it is true that driving performance begins to deteriorate after as little 1 or 2 drinks. If you really think the legal limit should be .32, and that anyone below that level is okay to drive, you are absolutely nuts. By .20 you are obviously and inarguably drunk.
      The Frecnh drink a lot of wine, true, but I don't think most people in France condone drinking 3 bottles of wine before going for a drive.

    • At least in the US, where our BAC limits are 25% of what actually impairs driving.

      Lies. There's plenty of research to support that any alcohol in a person's system has a deletrious effect on driving ability. citation [nhtsa.gov] Mine is from the National Highway Traffic Administration. Yours... is from some attorney trying to make his clients feel better about having just been busted weaving through traffic after having crashed into two other cars, run over his girlfriend, and was still sucking down beers and singing "yankee doodle".

      Mind you, I think that 'intoxication' needs to be matched against

  • "Novel solution"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LehiNephi (695428) on Monday February 27, 2012 @02:00PM (#39175551) Journal
    I would hardly call this a "novel" solution. It is as predictable as they come. "Got a safety problem? Add safety regulations or mandate safety devices!"

    A truly novel solution (not that I'm suggesting this) would be something like "Kill someone while drunk driving? Spend the next 18 months cleaning puke off the toilets in bars."
    • France with breathalyzers in every car, UK with cameras on every square inch of the country...

      You have to wonder why some politicians in the US idolize western Europe.

      If we follow their model, eventually we'll all have a government minder following us around with a clipboard.

      • by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday February 27, 2012 @02:09PM (#39175679)

        Oh noes teh $2 breathalyzer! Such an infringement of your rights. Next they will demand you have a working horn and maybe even some road flares.

      • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Monday February 27, 2012 @02:18PM (#39175839)

        They don't have the TSA, they actually have healthcare.

        If you look hard enough you can find good ideas everywhere. Europe has a couple of glaring examples of good ideas the US should be copying, and a lot of bad ideas it shouldn't. A 2 dollar breathalyser that you must have in your vehicle that costs thousands, with fuel that costs about that much per litre isn't exactly an onerous requirement. It's more of a "am I too drunk to drive? Oh... I guess I am" device, which, for 2 dollars is about a reasonable tradeoff. It's a weaker (and cheaper) requirement than needing to have working headlights, which seems fairly reasonable.

  • by hernick (63550) on Monday February 27, 2012 @02:00PM (#39175555)

    Okay, for those who didn't bother to read the article...

    All that's required is a $2 disposable breathalyzer. If you don't have one in your mandatory car safety kit, the fine will be $14.

  • Next up: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jakester2K (612607)
    Coming soon - many cheap and easy ways to defeat portable breathalyzers.
  • by XanC (644172) on Monday February 27, 2012 @02:02PM (#39175583)

    Using a breathalyzer to measure somebody's ability to drive a car is fraught with assumptions, which means, horrifyingly, what's now illegal is the indicators rather than the behavior.

    The DUI Exception to the Constitution [drunkdrivingdefense.com]

  • Unfounded story (Score:5, Informative)

    by patrickv (3481) on Monday February 27, 2012 @02:04PM (#39175607) Homepage

    I watch French TV and read French newspapers every day. I should know. The fact is that this is still under discussion, and then only for those drivers who have had several times a positive alcohol test. Further, there is a presidential election coming next spring. It is not the time to take such measures.

    In short, this news report is BS.

  • France has a widely-deployed mass transit system. The simple solution would be to treat cases of particularly reckless driving, including drunk driving, very seriously with a revocation of the offender's driver's license for X years (a permanent revocation for repeat offenders). It gets the point across that driving is a privilege, and it sidesteps the expense of installing breathalyzers in every vehicle.

  • alcohol still accounts for between a third and a half of road deaths.

    If a drunk pedestrian walks into the road and is killed by a car, is that included in this statistic? If so, how does a breathalyzer in the car help?

    If a driver has one beer, and a different driver runs a red light and kills them both, is that included? If so, how does a breathalyzer in the car help?

    Drunk driving is evil, but let's be clear about justifications for such intrusive laws.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday February 27, 2012 @02:06PM (#39175645)

    The in-car breathalyzer is not there for the reason you are assuming...

    In France you'll have a minimum BAC before they'll let you operate a car.

    Also, it will detect if you have been drinking Italian wine and scold you.

  • The thing about drunk driving is, it's based not on whether you can safely drive but an arbitrary blood alcohol level. Some people drive better with a quart of booze in them, some people are terrible drivers all by themselves. If you're a dangerous driver, you're a dangerous driver and it doesn't matter to me (or whoever you kill) if it's because you're drunk, tired, texting, or chinese.

    In foreign countries, I have seen breathalyzers in bars -- put in a quarter, get your reading. It's right next to the

  • Not only is this a burden financially to those law abiding citizens, it will not work. Unless a breathalyzer is registered to a particular vehicle, there will be nothing to enforce a high breathalyzer test result. And for those who really want to avoid prosecution, drivers will get random breathalyzers completed with normal level. And if these units are electronic, and kept in your own car, don't think for a minute that people won't have found a way to tamper with them so that results clear the driver.

  • Bold would be putting a cheap driver ID reader in place and not allowing the vehicle to start unless it matched, then adding some simple fingerprint hash to be stored on it as well... used together to make sure the driver doesn't just use a stolen ID. Then, when you're busted driving drunk, your license is taken away. You can't operate a vehicle now drunk or sober.

    The problem here isn't liquor, it's the culture that allows drunks to run around mowing people down and then letting them get back in the car
  • by twotacocombo (1529393) on Monday February 27, 2012 @02:08PM (#39175677)
    Obviously the poster has not lived in a family with alcoholics. I've lost two aunts in the past decade to alcoholism. It destroyed their minds and bodies, and effectively killed them years before they actually died. It's a terrible disease, and exacts an immense toll on the user. That being said, their drug of choice did not injure or kill anybody else. How can it be said that it affects others more than themselves? For that to be statistically possible, there would have to be more single injury or fatality accidents involving the injury/death of the sober party than there are deaths of addicts by non-auto related causes.
  • Okay, I'm ready for the berating. I have no issue with this type of regulation. It's something proactive that backs a current law, and helps with the enforcement of laws. While some may say it's intrusive, it's no more intrusive than some drunk getting behind the wheel and putting themselves on a road where other people will be at risk.

    A different common sense regulation to me is a governor on motorized vehicles to prevent insane travel speeds. I always wondered why publicly sold vehicles are capable of

    • by na1led (1030470)
      Why not put a camera in the car, so they can make sure you’re not drink, eating, sleeping, talking/texting on the phone, putting on makeup, playing with the radio, yelling at the kids in back, or looking at girls in bikinis.
  • The law will prosecute you to the fullest extent if you're slightly over the legal alcohol limit, but could care less that a blind old lady shouldn't be driving on the roads. So alcohol is more dangerous than incompetent drivers? I've seen more accidents from people who don't pay attention to the road because they are too busy playing with the radio, eating a burger and fries, putting on makeup, etc. etc. I've driving intoxicated before, and I was very careful driving when I was, but you can't always avoid
    • The law will prosecute you to the fullest extent if you're slightly over the legal alcohol limit, but could care less that a blind old lady shouldn't be driving on the roads. So alcohol is more dangerous than incompetent drivers? I've seen more accidents from people who don't pay attention to the road because they are too busy playing with the radio, eating a burger and fries, putting on makeup, etc. etc. I've driving intoxicated before, and I was very careful driving when I was, but you can't always avoid an idiot on the road. but because I had a few drinks, it's automatically my fault.

      In 1981 my 17 year old cousin was brutally killed by someone just like you. DWI is a serious crime and deserves severe penalties- much much more severe than the penalties we have now. Drinking and driving is NEVER a good idea and no matter how "careful" you are. If you're out on the road, driving while intoxicated you absolutely deserve to be punished. If you injure or kill someone while out on the road, you should spend the rest of your life behind bars. DWI is a totally preventable crime and one that

  • by Gavin Scott (15916) on Monday February 27, 2012 @04:40PM (#39177971)

    Jacques get in his car, decides to use his $2 breathalyzer which says he is under the legal limit.

    He drives off and ends up killing a family of four in a crosswalk.

    Which of these is going to be the case:

    A) The fact that he used the breathalyzer and it indicated he was not over the limit is a sufficient defense against a charge of drunk driving.

    B) The fact that he used the breathalyzer indicates he felt there was a chance he was over the limit, and is thus sufficient proof that he was impaired.

    G.

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