Many of us in the past may have taken the car keys off a friend to prevent them from driving after a few too many drinks. Now, a new piece of technology will leave them high and dry even if you're not there to walk them home.

Known as the Driver Alcohol Detection Systems for Safety (DADSS), sensors in a car equipped with the technology would analyse the blood alcohol content of the driver and if it's above the legal limit of .08, it can prevent the car from being started.

Developed by research and development firm QinetiQ North America Inc with partners in Sweden and New Mexico, the DADSS technology could save as many as 9,000 alcohol-related fatalities per year. The system would use sophisticated sensors in frequently handled locations such as door handles or the steering wheel, or alternatively, a breath sensor mounted inside the car.

The technology can analyse blood alcohol levels much quicker than court-ordered breath-analyser ignition locks.

The project was set up in 2008, and in common with many other road safety initiatives has been helped by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with a $10 million grant. The tech is in its early days though and may not be available commercially for another 8-10 years.

In the meantime, we'd advise an even more effective method for preventing drink-drive related injuries or death - if you're going out for a few on an evening, don't drive. Take a cab, public transport, or get a well-meaning and non-drinking friend to do the driving for you!

[The Economic Times]