New Thermal Imaging System Could Help Detect Drunk People

I recently ran across an article that discusses a new use for old technology when it comes to alcohol, people, and DUI arrests. In a paper that was published by Greek scientists it may be possible in the near future where thermal imaging may be able to detect individuals have has consumed alcohol.

How does this work you ask? Well pretty interesting. Apparently these scientists are in the process of developing new algorithms that will gather date about the blood vessels in an individuals face. You see when a person consumes alcohol often times their face will become flushed, or rosy, or even red faced. The reason this occurs is because the blood vessels in their face are becoming dilated due to the increased alcohol intake through the blood.

What these scientists hope to do is capitalize on these increased blood vessels because this will cause the individuals face to increase in temperature. And thus thermal imaging can detect that increased temperature that is different or higher than the body temperature.

This paper then goes on the describe how this process can be used by police departments. It is silent on exactly what would the police use this for. But as a Seattle DUI Attorney I can only imagine the problems with this. Imaging going to a bar or restaurant. Having a single drink or perhaps even two. Keeping mind it is not illegal to consume alcohol and drive. It is only illegal if your ability to drive is lessened in any appreciable degree or if you are over the legal limit. Then imagine police positioned on street corners shooting these thermal imaging guns at individuals. Seeing the increased temperature in their face. Assuming they are drunk and then pulling people over to investigate for DUI and other alcohol related offenses.

I dont think I need to harp on the potential 4th amendment violations that would occur from these. Here in Washington state, the 4th amendment is afforded greater protections than the federal constitution. So I doubt this would ever occur here, since we don’t even allow checkpoint stops by the police. But it is scary to think this type of technology can be used. Again as a Seattle DUI Attorney, I hope it doesn’t come to this. We have enough issues with unlawful 4th amendment seizures due to overzealous police investigations.

Matthew A. Leyba is a Seattle DUI Attorney in Western WA. His practice focuses exclusively on representing those accused of DUI and other serious traffic offenses.