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New DUI patch could reduce drunk driving deaths

South Carolina residents may soon have the option of wearing a patch that indicates whether they are too drunk to drive. The product, which was developed by New Mexico-based startup company DermaTec, could be mass-produced in the near future if funding can be obtained. The company has already received grants and is seeking additional financing.

DermaTec's ONUSBlue patch is designed to gauge alcohol intake through sweat on an individual's skin. As a person consumes alcohol, the patch changes color and indicates if they become too inebriated to safely get behind the wheel of a car. The product was named ONUSBlue because the company believes it is "on us" to prevent drunk driving. The company was inspired to develop the patch because New Mexico has one of the highest per capita drunk-driving death rates in the nation.

DermaTec plans to work with restaurants, bars and other businesses to make branded designated driver patches to pass out to customers and employees. The company also plans to market the patches to drinkers to encourage safety and responsibility when consuming alcohol.

South Carolina residents convicted on drunk driving charges could face harsh consequences, including incarceration, fines and the loss of their driver's license. A conviction could also lead to sharply increased insurance premiums. However, individuals arrested for drunk driving could help their situation by consulting with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. If a case is weak, legal counsel may be able to get the charges dismissed by disputing the evidence, including breathalyzer and field sobriety tests. In stronger cases, an attorney may recommend negotiating for a plea bargain that allows a defendant to plead guilty to reduced charges.

Source: KOB 4, "Albuquerque company develops anti-DWI patch", Erica Zucco, Sept. 8, 2016

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