“Infrastructure?” Bill forced through by Democrats, signed by Biden puts will require blood alcohol detectors in new cars

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The following contains editorial content which is the opinion of the author, a retired Chief of Police and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today. 

BOSTON, MA- Let’s face it…nobody likes a drunk driver, least of all those of us in law enforcement.

However a new law signed by Joe Biden seems to take prevention to a rather preposterous level. That law will require that alcohol detection systems be included in all newly manufactured vehicles, however the new equipment likely will not be included until 2026.

It’s rather ironic that as state after state legalizes recreational marijuana, which also has a significant effect on one’s cognitive abilities and fine motor skills, lawmakers now find themselves concerned with an interlock system tied only into detection of alcohol.

No such plans are apparently proposed for people impaired by marijuana.

Cars are now apparently also “infrastructure” as the new measure was included as part of the over $1 trillion “infrastructure” bill signed into law by Biden this week.

The legislation came about as statistics have shown that over 10,000 people are killed every year in the U.S. by drunk drivers, CBS-4 WBZ in Boston reported. The law was pushed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) along with a woman named Sarah Carmichael, who was seriously injured in a crash involving a drunk driver in 2008 in Framingham, Massachusetts, a suburb  of Boston.

Carmichael was hit by a drunk driver, which left her in a medically -induced coma for over a week.

“I was in a medically induced coma for about 10 days,” she said. “C1 and C2 vertebrae in my neck were fractured as well as the base of my skull, both sides of my collarbone, 11 of my ribs, my pelvis was shattered,” she told WBZ.

“Doctors prepared my family that I was not going to live,” Carmichael said, noting that her recovery took years.

“With my pelvis being shattered I had metal bars to stabilize it, had to use a walker to get around. I had to learn how to walk again, basically how to do everything from sitting up in bed on my own to brushing my teeth,” she said.

While on its face the proposed interlock, which still allows someone to start the car but not move it does not seem important. However it is ripe for abuse from an overzealous government. It also presents some possible public safety issues of its own.

For example, let’s say, for example that a woman is at a bar and maybe has a couple glasses of wine. While she may be “legally” over the limit of .08% BAC, she may be more than capable of driving. What if she is followed by a stalker out of a bar and gets in her car to escape.

Now clearly if she’s over the limit technically she shouldn’t be driving, however perhaps she is more than capable of doing so. Now she is put in the position of being unable to escape from her attacker. One can easily imagine such a scenario. Once again, the law of unintended consequences.

As far as an overzealous government, one could also imagine a scenario where such a system could be misused by law enforcement, in this case let’s think beyond municipal or state law enforcement.

As we have recently seen, the federal government is not beyond using its scope and power to target people, so who is to say it couldn’t likewise use a system such as this to perhaps target political enemies or others?

Tell us it’s not likely and we’ll tell you it also wasn’t likely that the attorney general would use the DOJ to target school parents. Simply put, the federal government can no longer be trusted.

Who is to say such a system couldn’t be utilized or tweaked down the road to somehow alert law enforcement authorities that someone over the limit is attempting to drive away, locking the doors and disabling the ability of the operator to shut down the engine.

Sitting behind the wheel of a running car is considered operation in a number of states. Once again, painting the worst case scenario of an over-reaching government.

Clearly such would be a violation of the Fourth Amendment, however given the direction our courts have been headed, does anyone honestly believe this would be a slam-dunk Fourth Amendment case?

Then there is another issue…what if a passenger is drunk but the driver is not?

According to the proposed system called the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS), it uses infrared sensors mounted on the dashboard and door that register a driver’s breath with touch sensors that also capture blood alcohol levels in the skin. The manufacturer—KEA Technologies in Marlboro, Massachusetts—says that  particular system gets results in just a few seconds.

According to Bud Zaouk, President and CEO of KEA, he said he heads up a team of engineers and scientists who are evaluating the technology while insisting it is non-invasive in nature.

“You get in the vehicle, the sensor will detect if you have alcohol and how much you have alcohol,” Zaouk said. “It will be something that tells you that you are above the legal limit in your state. You can start the vehicle but not allow you to move the car.”

A representative of Boston’s MADD chapter, MaryKate DePamphilis claims the system will make roads safer.

“Despite the pandemic we are seeing an uptick in fatality crashes,” she said, while predicting for example Massachusetts will realize a 9% increase in deaths, or 130 dead for last year.

As noted above, some critics are concerned the data could raise privacy concerns, which Zaouk dismisses.

“Obviously, this is not the cop on board,” he said. “This is not something that is going to be monitoring you and recording what you are doing. It’s just there to really prevent you from making the wrong decision.”

That may be true now, but given the current administration and status of the federal surveillance state, it is easy to see how such a system can be abused.

For Carmichael however the new technology and accompanying legislation is overdue.

“It is absolutely time that drinking and driving stops. So there will be no more victims like myself and no other family will have to suffer like my family did,” she said.

CBS 4 reported that the new technology will not be available for several years, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration having to choose the system (after they get their palms greased no doubt) and then develop safety standards for its implementation. Auto manufacturers will then have three years to get the systems up and rolling which means the technology won’t be available for several years.

It is unknown how much it will cost new car buyers for the privilege of paying for the latest version of Big Brother.  

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Last year during the height of pandemic paranoia, we brought you the story of a Connecticut police department that was testing out a “COVID surveillance drone” of sorts. For more on that, we invite you to:

DIG DEEPER

WESTPORT, CT.- We cannot believe that the ACLU doesn’t have a problem with this.

In only the past 24-hours, two news items from the State of Connecticut should give pause to liberty-loving Americans. How far are Americans willing to go as far as sacrificing our freedom and right to privacy in order to achieve “safety?”

A police department in Connecticut is now testing a “pandemic drone” and the governor wants Connecticut residents to download an app in order to reopen businesses, both in the interests of “tracking the coronavirus.”

According to NBC-30 in Hartford, police in Westport, Connecticut are going to be testing a so-called “pandemic drone,” which will be able to “monitor people’s temperatures from 190 feet away and detect sneezing, coughing and heart and breathing rates.”

The police are working with a company called Draganfly, a drone company in a joint effort to test technology to “help combat the spread of the coronavirus.”

In a news release, Draganfly said the drone is equipped with specialized sensor and computer vision systems, with the ability to display fever/temperature, heart and respiratory rates, as well as the ability to detect people sneezing and coughing in crowds, wherever groups of people may work or congregate.

Connecticut currently has just short of 20,000 cases of COVID-19, with nearly half of those cases being in Fairfield County, where Westport is located.

“One of the major problems for cities and towns like Westport in managing and responding to a pandemic like the COVID-19 virus is finding out who could be infected and how widespread the disease has spread,” said First Selectman Jim Marpe in a statement.

“One way to this is to look for underlying symptoms. By teaming up with Draganfly and the UniSA team led by Defence Chair of Sensor Systems Professor Javaan Chahl, we are able to remotely look at valuable lifesaving data and better manage current and future health emergencies.”

Not too sure there, Mr. First Selectman. This looks like something that could easily be misused, maybe not in Westport but certainly someone may use this technology for nefarious purposes.

The police department said that the goal is to provide better monitoring for groups who are more at-risk, including senior citizens. It would also be used to monitor crowds at locations such as beaches, train stations, parks and recreation areas, as well as at shopping centers.

According to a report on ABC-7 in New York, the drone could also be used to measure whether people are social distancing. As we said, nefarious purposes.

“There shouldn’t be a police chief of anybody who’s sitting in my seat right now with everything that’s going on, not looking for a way to do things differently,” said police chief Foti Koskinas.

“If you’re scanning an area and you see that a problem exists, that might be an area where you might want to put more resources at,” Koskinas said.

In a news release, police said that the drone software “uses biometric readings to understand population patterns and allows quicker reaction time to ongoing events or potential health threats.”

The program is called the “Flatten the Curve Pilot Program.” It sounds in some ways more like “Flatten the 4th Amendment Program.”

Police noted that the drones will not be used in individual private yards, nor does it use facial recognition technology.

“Using drones remains a go-to technology for reaching remote areas with little to no manpower required. Because of this technology, our officers will have the information and quality data they need to make the best decision in any given situation,” said Koskinas in a news release.

Privacy is a concern for the New York Civil Liberties Union, which released a statement saying, in part that any use of drones should be “scientifically justified, communicated transparently to the public, limited in their scope and duration, and should always require informed consent.”

Koskinas noted that “I’m absolutely very sensitive to privacy issues.”

 The CEO of the company said that the technology is not designed to identify people, but rather patterns.

“The system is designed to basically provide health monitoring data and be able to give us better data, but make more clear decisions,” said Cameron Chell, CEO of Draganfly.

“The Westport Police Department is one of the most progressive public safety agencies in the nation and real pioneers when it comes to adopting and integrating new technology to enhance the safety of their citizens and first responders,” Chell said.

“This coronavirus pandemic has opened up a new frontier for advanced drones. In conjunction with our partners, including the town of Westport, together we are the first in the U.S. to implement this state-of-the art technology to analyze data in a way that has been peer reviewed and clinically researched to save lives.”

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Meanwhile, leftist Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont wants residents of the state to download a new app to their phones to “anonymously provide scientists with critical health information needed to understand the spread of the new coronavirus.”

According to The Patch, Lamont is pushing for residents to add the app, called the “How We Feel” app in order to track user’s symptoms, with the information gathered then able to reveal hotspots and track the progression of COVID-19.

The app was developed by health experts from several institutions, including Harvard, MIT and others. A release says that it was created “in response to the need for health officials and doctors to obtain more information on COVID-19 in the face of widespread testing shortages.”

The app does not require logging in, nor does it require sharing personal details such as name or email address. However, since phones have the ability to track user info via GPS technology, it is uncertain if the information would truly be anonymous.

Lamont said that people in the state could assist in research by self-reporting daily symptoms about how they are feeling, whereby the data would be shared with scientists in real time.

The information would be “securely” shared with the medical institutions in order to provide health professionals and scientists the ability to spot emerging outbreaks, identify new at-risk populations and measure the efficiency of locking people down through social distancing.

Lamont’s office said that the ability to get the data to the medical community quickly can enable them to make faster decisions to help slow or contain the coronavirus.

They said that when they are able to get a better handle on who is sick, the level of their illness and their location that the deployment of additional resources might be achievable.

“We’re all looking for something we can to do stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this app provides an opportunity for everyone—regardless of whether you are currently sick or if you are in healthy condition—to share how you’re feeling to leading health professionals, so they can track the spread of this virus and quickly determine where a new outbreak may be occurring,” Lamont said.

“Likewise, as people report healthier symptoms, the data could reveal which health measures are having the fastest impact and apply those learnings in other areas. It’s quick and easy to use, and completely anonymous. By encouraging everyone to use How We Feel, we all benefit.”

It looks like the ability to re-open the state will be based on the willingness of Connecticut residents to participate. It is being heavily pushed by the “Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group.”

Dr. Albert Ko of the Yale School of Medicine, co-chair of the group said, “We need to provide all residents of Connecticut with the best technology to identify whether they are feeling ill and need to get tested for COVID-19.

We can all be assured that by partnering with most trusted and high-caliber doctors and scientists who created How We Feel, we can provide the best care and the highest standards of data privacy.”

Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo, also co-chair of the advisory group said:

“As our task force works on our plan for fighting the virus and getting the state back to work, How We Feel will be a critical tool for us to get a better understanding of how the whole population is feeling, both healthy and sick.

This will enable us to more quickly make the important decisions about opening the economy.”

 Of course, the issue with Lamont’s advisory group is that it does not appear to include any small business interests on the panel.

Besides the two mentioned, it includes another doctor, Dr. Scott Gottlieb who is the former FDA commissioner; another doctor, Ezekiel Emanuel who helped create Obamacare; Lamont’s chief of staff Paul Mounds, a Democrat hack; Charles Lee, director of Jackson Labs Genomic Medicine division; and David Scheer, who is connected to Lamont’s wife, a venture capitalist; Oni Chukwu, chairman of a cloud-based software company, Dr. Harlan Krumholz of the Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Mehmood Khan, former chief scientific officer of PepsiCo and a former faculty member at the May Clinic, and someone named Alex Kamala.

Lots of medical people, nobody (except Nooyi) who knows anything about business.

If anyone thinks business will be back to “normal” anytime soon in Connecticut, don’t hold your breath.

Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”.  While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers.  And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.

And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.

For those looking for a quick link to get in the fight and support the cause, click here.


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