Orange cones and flashing police lights confronted Ricardo Nieves as he rounded a bend on the way to his mother's house. Before he knew what was going on, Nieves said, a man working for a government contractor stepped in front of his car and forced him to turn into a parking lot. There, a woman repeatedly tried to question him about his driving habits and asked for a mouth swab that would detect the presence of illegal or prescription drugs in his system.
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OnStar is soooo 2007. Rather than building some kind of old school cell phone telematics system into its cars, Mini is going the hip, modern route for roadside assistance. Mini USA has collaborated with insurance company Allstate to create an Apple iPhone app (also available for some GPS-equipped Blackberries) for owners to automatically call for roadside assistance. When you install the app, you put in your vehicle ID number and select a photo of your car if you want.