Coronavirus Prompts Changes to DUI Testing | Be Korea-savvy

Coronavirus Prompts Changes to DUI Testing

A police officer conducts a sobriety test on a driver with a sensor on a stick in Seoul on May 19, 2020. (Yonhap)

A police officer conducts a sobriety test on a driver with a sensor on a stick in Seoul on May 19, 2020. (Yonhap)

SEOUL, May 21 (Korea Bizwire)The National Police Agency expanded the use of so-called ‘untact’ detectors to track down drunk drivers nationwide after they were first introduced last Monday.

The breathalyzers used in the pre-coronavirus era were removed in January, after which the police have been resorting to selective crackdowns on suspicious drivers for some time.

After a spike in the number of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) accidents between January and April, however, the police decided to introduce the untact detectors to return to normal operations.

The untact detectors are attached to the end of a pole that can stretch as long as 1 meter, enabling officers to use the pole to bring the detector close to the driver’s face without engaging in unnecessary physical contact.

The detectors are covered with non-woven fabric or plastic bags, and are sanitized regularly to prevent any infection, the police explained.

Many drivers expressed confusion as they were unfamiliar with the new devices. Some of them would blow into the detectors, and police officers had to explain that they don’t need to.

Sometimes, the detector would return a false alarm, in which case the police officers took out a normal breathalyzer to redo the DUI test.

“The untact detectors respond to any alcohol substances in the surrounding air, so it sometimes reacts to washer liquid and hand sanitizer,” said Choi Woong-hee, traffic police chief at the Gangseo Police Station.

“To prevent any false alarms, we have 20 breathalyzers in place to conduct ad-hoc tests.”

H. M. Kang (

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