Thursday, November 03, 2005

Drunk Drivers Exploit Geeky Loophole

drunk driverI would like to make it clear that I in no way advocate driving while intoxicated. I do think that what these people are doing is pretty clever and may end up in some laws being changed. What is happening is upon arriving in court for a DUI, the defendant demands to be given the source code from the breathalyzer machine's software so that it may be reviewed by a professional for any flaws or bugs that may allow a missread or inaccuracy. The manufacturers of these breathalyzer machines are all refusing to disclose the code because they consider it a trade secret and the court doesn't really have any authority to force these companies to do it. Therefore the DUI case may be thrown out.

Some geek thought of doing this some months back and now it keeps coming up in more and more cases. Here is an article about the most recent instance of this happening in Florida which may clear over 150 drunk drivers of their charges. The article explains that since the certain breathalyzer model being used was approved for official use in 1993 the company has made numerous changes to the source code and a recall was even made on them a year ago to fix an existing bug. Maybe accepting a software audit on these machines isn't a bad idea. When geeks challenge the law, things happen.


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