New (And Overdue) Law To End Drunk Driving

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In the United States, there are roughly 28 people who die in drunk-driving crashes each day — that’s one person every 52 minutes.  That is roughly 10,000 deaths per year.  President Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill contains a provision to require automakers to find a way to use technology to significantly reduce this scourge. 

Starting in 2026, automakers will have to install technology that detects and prevents drunk drivers from operating their vehicles. Under the new law, the car must “passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired.”  
Over the next few years, the Transportation Department will assess and choose the technological solution(s).

That technology could be in-car cameras that monitor driver attentiveness.  Alternatively, it could be built-in sensors that measure alcohol levels such as an “interlock” device. Under current New York law, anyone convicted of driving while intoxicated must install such an “interlock” device for, at least, 6 months. This device is a breathalyzer that works in sync with your ignition. Blow too much and the car will not start or continue to operate. How such devices could be used in the new law’s mandated “passive” manner is yet to be determined.

The law likely could faces privacy challenges but it is certainly a courageous and impressive attack on a long-standing problem in this county.  We applaud the long overdue effort. “It’s monumental,” said Alex Otte, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Otte described the new law as the “single most important legislation” in MADDs’s history that marks “the beginning of the end of drunk driving.”

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