Breathalyzers a future life saviour?

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Could the day be coming when every driver is checked for drinking before starting a car?

Widespread use of ignition interlock devices that won’t allow a car to be started if a driver has had too much alcohol, once considered radical, no longer seems out of the question. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) gives a qualified endorsement to the idea. New York state legislators are considering requiring the devices on all cars and trucks by 2009. And automakers, already close to offering the devices as optional equipment on all Volvo and Saab models in Sweden, are considering whether to bring the technology here.

Steven Carter, a Colorado Springs-based photographer, voluntarily put one on his Honda Prelude last year after his third drunken-driving arrest since 1999. He had quit drinking but installed it as a "safeguard with me."

The decision was fortunate: Four months ago, Carter had a relapse and tried to drive his car after drinking at a bar.

It wouldn’t start, so he took a cab home and went back the next day to get it. It still wouldn’t start because he set his device to detect alcohol above a 0.01 blood-alcohol level.

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