Up until now, the idea of rigging vehicles with devices so they don't start was preserved for the most egregious alcohol abusers. But now, technology firms are looking for ways to expand screening and might enable auto manufacturers to include alcohol testing on passenger vehicles as part of the standard vehicle package.

Here's why:

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 10,800 alcohol-related driving fatalities occurred in 2009. And, last month the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that heavy drinkers cost the U.S. economy over $220 billion per year in lost productivity, higher healthcare cost, accident costs and crime. Obviously that must change and both the public and private sector have vested interests in reducing those numbers as quickly as possible.

Crain's Detroit Business in September said that NHTSA awarded a $2.25 million contract to TK Holdings Inc. of Detroit to develop an automotive application for blood alcohol testing.

TK, the North American subsidiary of the Japanese auto supplier Takata Corp., will use infrared technology developed by Albuquerque, N.M.-based TruTouch Technologies Inc.

TruTouch's device uses infrared light to detect alcohol in the bloodstream when the driver touches a button. The device would disable the vehicle's engine if the driver fails the sobriety test.

The technology needed for the performance of that task should not be underestimated. The TruTouch detection engine is being used in blood alcohol intoxication and biometric measurement systems that are deployed for workforce, law enforcement and transportation safety applications. During the last four years, TruTouch devices have completed more than 750,000 tests for customers. Peer-reviewed clinical studies show a 96% correlation to forensic grade blood test results which is as accurate as conventional, evidentiary grade systems such as breathalyzers. The TruTouch feature set allows companies to cheaply and easily test employees – at the point of need - on a daily basis without the need for test supervision. The company says that's "a value proposition that cannot be matched by competitors."

You might think this seems like 'Big Brother' is slowly taking over but it looks like this technology best serves the public interest.

In fact, it's already working effectively for some major employers. For example, today a Fortune 100 beverage distributor uses TruTouch systems to perform 100% screening of truck drivers before and after shifts. An Oil & Gas company tests employees prior to allowing access to their drilling rigs.