September 3, 2005


Sweden wants DUI devices on all cars (AAP, September 3, 2005)

The Swedish government wants all of the country's new cars to be equipped with devices that check sobriety by 2012 to prevent drunken driving.

Buses and other heavy vehicles should be required to install the devices even earlier, Communication Minister Ulrica Messing wrote in an opinion article in newspaper Goteborgs-Posten.

The devices, called ignition interlocks, measure alcohol on the breath and won't allow a car to start if the driver has been drinking.

Messing said around 15,000 Swedes drive under the influence of alcohol every day.

Some of us are old enough to remember the fury with which libertians opposed things like seat belts and air bags, which became routine equipment in automobiles with minimal inconvenience to our lives and have saved many lives at little cost.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 3, 2005 10:29 AM

Actually, the evidence strongly suggests that airbags have saved few lives at enormous cost. So it turns out that the libertarians were right.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at September 3, 2005 11:55 PM

According to the libertarians...

Posted by: oj at September 4, 2005 12:16 AM

I assume that somebody will figure out how to diddle the electric nanny for $4.75 and 30 minutes of your time and that it will turn out to be totally useless.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 4, 2005 1:03 AM

How many asthma attacks will this result in?

Posted by: RC at September 4, 2005 9:03 AM

Be on the lookout for enterprising Americans to set up mobile auto start assistance businesses catering to those who are willing to pay top dollar for this service. Extremely low overhead fortells high profit margins.

Posted by: WildWzl at September 4, 2005 12:13 PM

People said the same of belts and airbags. Plus, the black box in your car will give you away.

Posted by: oj at September 4, 2005 12:21 PM

Yeah. The people who are willing to drive drunk in the first place are going to have no moral problem with circumventions, either temporary or permanent. Another example of social engineering at its finest-- a techonological solution to a moral problem that ultimately won't work, but will breed other problems that didn't exist before.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 4, 2005 12:24 PM

When you can't get insurance, a license or register your car the problem will be solved.

Posted by: oj at September 4, 2005 12:30 PM

Naw. They'd just "borrow" a friend's, or "find" one on the street. They probably never had insurance on their own cars, and only registered them when they got a "fix-it" ticket. These are people who won't respond to anything but the simpliest of stimuli, like physical force and direct pain. So for the social engineers, the solution is to punish the rest of us because we are all guilty until proven innocent.

And the comparison of these devices to seatbelts and airbags is wrong. Seatbelts were a technological solution to a technological problem: preventing injuries in collisions. The question about airbags is over their net effectiveness. Drunk driving is a social/moral problem and requires social/moral solutions, which this isn't.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 4, 2005 4:05 PM


Driving is a privilege, a minor inconvenience like this, given the lives saved, is simply part of what you accept when you ask for the privilege.

Posted by: oj at September 4, 2005 4:56 PM

OJ: you forget the first and second law of systems: "If it is a system, it can be hacked. If it can be hacked it will be hacked."

Posted by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 4, 2005 11:42 PM

The third law: by hackers.

Posted by: oj at September 4, 2005 11:59 PM

Hackers can sell their services, just like any person with specialized and valuable knowledge.

Also, the system has to be in possession of the user, and therefore is inherently untrustworthy, no matter how much "validation" or "obfuscation" you add to protect it. As the Digitial Rights Managment (DRM) folks are learning the hard way, all it takes is one person to turn years of efforts a total waste of time and effort and money. (I know, because a while back I worked for several years for the Evil Software Empire's DRM group. It's amazing how fast some of their attempts were broken. Once before it was even released, by a guy working from a leaked beta. His documentation was so good that I learned things that even the MS engineers who wrote the code hadn't written down. (Then again, the Evil Empire doesn't believe in documentation.)) At best it's a Darwinist arms-race, and all you end up doing punishing the honest.

And just because driving is a privilege, that's no excuse for instituting a sledgehammer "guilty until proven innocent" systems which assumes that everyone's a criminal and that we have to constantly re-prove our innocence, which is exactly what this use of the device is. Or are you of the opinion that civil rights should only extend to the areas that you care about? (and from my reading here, it seems obvious that freedom of movement isn't one of those areas.) Now if you want to say that this system gets installed as part of punishment for a first offense, I'd be all for that, because then you'd be punishing the guilty, who've already decided that driving drunk was worth the risk of giving up their rights.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 5, 2005 3:35 PM


Do you use fake crdit cards because hackers can supply them?

Posted by: oj at September 5, 2005 3:41 PM

Great, now we have OJ, a nominal conservative, telling us driving is a privelege. Because rights don't exist unless they're doled out by the state, right, OJ?

Meanwhile, the article says "...all of the country's new cars to be equipped with devices that check sobriety by 2012..." I'm pretty sure I can be sober by 2012.

Posted by: Tom at September 5, 2005 4:17 PM


You aren't required to get a license to exercise a right--you are to drive a car. It's a privilege, not a right.

Posted by: oj at September 5, 2005 4:21 PM