New contactless detector developed for sobriety test in S. Korea

Lim Chang-won Reporter() | Posted : April 20, 2020, 13:43 | Updated : April 20, 2020, 13:43

[Courtesy of the National Police Agency]

SEOUL -- For a sobriety crackdown which has been inactive this year due to a novel coronavirus epidemic, South Korean police came up with a new contactless sensor that can detect drunk drivers without breathalyzing. Police used a rod attached with a new detector covered with a disposable plastic cover.

A week-long trial operation began on April 20 to see if the new detector is effective. The National Police Agency (NPA) said in a statement on Monday that it would use the new device for a nationwide sobriety crackdown by analyzing and supplementing the results of the trial run.

"We will raise awareness among drivers through various ways of sobriety control activities, while actively trying to protect the people's precious lives from drunk driving accidents," the agency said in a statement.

Police wearing masks use a rod attached with an electronic device to detect drunk driving through the driver's window. Located about 30 centimeters (11.8 inches) away from the driver for 5 seconds, the lamp flashes and a warning tone is emitted when alcohol is detected. Police do not have to put arms in the vehicle. The device and its rod should be disinfected from time to time.

Police stopped using the breathalyzer and roadblocks on January 28 when South Korea was hit by a COVID-19 epidemic. As a result, driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol has been on the rise. In the January-March period, the number of drunk driving accidents increased by 24.4 percent on-year to 4,101.

As an alternative, police in some provincial areas have designed a new method using traffic cones to create a long curved path. Vehicles were forced to pass by one by one. Driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.05 percent or higher constitutes drunk driving in South Korea.

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