Drunk driving technology has come a long way since the days of the Drunk-o-meter and the first breathalyzers on the market. Ignition interlocks now lead the way in disabling the vehicles of would-be drunk drivers every day, and researchers at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Vancouver, British Columbia want to develop that type of tech to stop drug-impaired drivers.
Ophthalight is a device being developed by a PhD student at SFU. It fits over the face of a suspected drug-impaired driver, and although it looks like goggles, there are cameras inside that point at the driver’s eyes. Once placed, a series of lights around the lens of the goggle will stimulate the person’s eye, and the reaction is recorded.
Ophthalight would be used instead of a flashlight test, where police officers flash a light in the driver’s eyes to gauge eye reaction during a field sobriety test, and there are a few reasons why a device like this would be beneficial to a police officer.
If someone hires a lawyer to fight an impaired driving charge, a lawyer could argue in court that the police officer didn’t properly administer the field sobriety test or he wasn’t trained properly to perform it. With Ophthalight, there will no need to worry about officer error. The recorded data will be accurate and it could help seal the deal for drug-impaired drivers.
What Ophthalight can’t do is find out just how drugged the driver is. It will only replace a standardized field sobriety test, and it can’t provide an accurate assessment of how impaired the driver is in the same way a breathalyzer or ignition interlock can reveal how drunk a driver is.
Will Ophthalight be used by police officers to stop drunk drivers? Time will tell, but the development of new technology to stop drug-impaired drivers is always a good thing.