Have you been drinking?

Developed at the Texas Christian University, a new passive alcohol sensor detects when a driver is drunk and alerts the police.

Around the world, police still rely on spot checks and the evidence of their own eyes to catch drunk drivers.

As well as being a rather inefficient use of police time, surveys indicate that many drink drivers continue to drive because they don’t expect to be caught. Now, a tiny device developed in the US has the potential to forever change the way this social problem is dealt with.

Developed at the Texas Christian University, the PAS (passive alcohol sensor) detects when a driver is drunk and alerts the police.

It’s creator, Mechanical Engineering student Tracy Haverty, claims that the device will ‘create an overwhelming deterrent factor’, making it impossible for drivers to get away with driving ‘under the influence’.

The device consists of a small fuel cell with a tiny fan attached to the back to draw air past the cell. The black platinum front of the fuel cell reacts with ethyl alcohol molecules in the air, creating electrical impulses. The magnitude of the electrical output can be directly related to the amount of ethyl alcohol in the air. If mounted in a car, the device can be used to monitor the driver’s breath, and thus the amount of alcohol he or she has consumed.

If the driver is emitting alcohol levels that exceed the legal limit, the device activates a transmitter that sends a signal to a police receiver.

The sensor will move into the commercial development stage within the year, and, once fully developed, its inventors expect it to cost less than $100. Car manufacturers, law enforcement agencies and pressure groups are said to be ‘clamouring for the project’s completion.’