Drunk Drivers May Be Ordered to Wear Alcohol Sensing Tattoo

A new Orwellian technology could be used by courts to monitor the consumption of alcohol by alleged drunk drivers.
If you are arrested for drunk driving in Michigan, then the court will almost certainly order you to stop drinking. This abstinence from alcohol will be a condition of your bond. Various methods are then used by courts in Michigan to assure that you are not drinking. These include random breath or urine tests. Some courts also order that you wear an alcohol-sensing ankle tether, which monitors the presence of alcohol in your perspiration.

A new alcohol sensing technology has just been developed in the form of a wearable skin tattoo. According to Science Daily, scientists at the University of California have developed a tattoo or “flexible wearable sensor” that also measures the presence of alcohol in a person’s sweat. These new tattoos are part of a broader category of wearable chemical sensors that have been and are currently being developed.

In the case of alcohol sensors, these devices usually use sweat as it is the most easily assessable bodily fluid. This fluid is then transported to a receptor that usually converts the alcohol present to an electric current that is then measured, and the results are then processed and transmitted.

In the case of the wearable tattoo, computer-printed electrodes are inside a hydrogel patch that contains a chemical called “pilocarpine.” This chemical induces sweat that is then measured. A low energy “passive pump” is used so that the sweat will come into contact with an electrode that contains a second chemical that, when in the presence of alcohol, generates hydrogen peroxide. This hydrogen peroxide is then measured, and the electrical signal is communicated back through a Bluetooth wireless connection to a device such as a phone.

In a Michigan drunk driving case, the wearable tattoo could be configured so that the police officer, probation officer, or even the judge in your case is notified as soon as alcohol is detected. If you are ordered to not drink while your case is pending, then this positive alcohol reading could theoretically result in your arrest and incarceration.

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