The Light that Knows You're Drunk

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The blood alcohol content (BAC) test is perhaps the most important part of any DUI arrest - in court, evidence from a breath test or blood test can provide evidence that's difficult to dispute. But current breath- and blood-testing devices have several serious drawbacks, which are often highlighted by DUI lawyers in their defense. With the introduction of a new machine from TruTouch Technologies, though, those problems could be solved.

According to New Mexico Business Weekly, TruTouch Technologies was founded in 2005 and launched its first DUI-detection product in early 2007. Since then, it seems the company's booming success has been matched by the enthusiasm of those who have used the TruTouch system.

Reports indicate that the TruTouch machine tests for blood alcohol by holding a subject's arm and shining an infrared light on his skin, which tests alcohol levels in the bloodstream. The machine apparently produces results in about one minute - significantly less time than a breathalyzer machine (which takes about 20 minutes to yield results) and breath or urine tests (which take several days).

Plus, the machine uses completely non-invasive methods to test for intoxication, which neither the breathalyzer machine nor blood and urine tests can do.

Evidently, the Albuquerque-based company's product has proved popular among several New Mexico alcohol rehabilitation-related institutions, including residential treatment centers, probation-related programs and minimum security jails with furlough programs.

One sheriff apparently believes this technology will revolutionize the way DUI investigations are conducted.

But before any major changes take place, the TruTouch device still has a few hurdles ahead of it. As of now, evidence from TruTouch machines is not admissible in DUI court cases, because it has not yet been proven reliable. As part of the process of gathering data on TruTouch machines' accuracy, some New Mexico police are testing DUI suspects with both conventional methods of alcohol detection and the TruTouch machine.

When a significant body of information has been compiled, analysts can review the results for accuracy.

And, should the analysis show that TruTouch products are reliable, the future of DUI could indeed be changed. TruTouch is reportedly working on a version of the tester to be used in ignition interlock devices. In theory, such technology would be able to determine who was using the machine, thus eliminating the problem of having a sober person blow into a breath-operated ignition interlock device to start a car for someone who's been drinking.

But such technology is likely still fairly distant, since the process of winning legal acceptance for the TruTouch as a reliable blood alcohol tester could take several years.


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