Automakers would be required to equip cars with technology geared toward preventing driving under the influence by the year 2026 under a key provision of the trillion-dollar infrastructure package signed by President Joe Biden on Monday, Nov. 15.
According to a news report in The New York Times, the type of technology that would be used in vehicles has not yet been settled. As of now, Congress has stopped short of endorsing ignition interlock devices like those that are required by the courts for DUI offenders, which typically involve a breath test.
Important Step to Save Lives
Organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) say this safety mandate would save thousands of lives. The group pointed out that more than 9,000 people are killed each year in the United States as a result of drunk driving crashes. The president of MADD, Alex Otte, has said that the measure would eliminate the number one killer on America’s roadways.
Under the mandate, the safety equipment must “passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired,” and “prevent or limit motor vehicle operation if an impairment is detected.” It’s not clear how lawmakers would define “passive monitoring.” Congress has given the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) three years to issue a final rule for the safety devices, which the bill said would give automakers enough time to comply with the measure.
Other Effective Measures
As DUI victims’ lawyers, we welcome any new legislation that will help prevent these tragedies that can and should be prevented. Here are some of the other measures that have been effective against drinking and driving, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:
- Administrative license suspension: This procedure allows law enforcement officials to immediately take the license of someone who either fails an alcohol test or refuses to be tested.
- Sobriety checkpoints: While these don’t always result in a lot of arrests, they are a good visual deterrent when they are visible and publicized. They are common all over California. But, not all states have them.
- Minimum drinking age: Young drivers have a much higher crash risk when impaired. Setting 21 as the minimum legal age for purchasing alcohol has helped reduce DUI crashes among teens.
- Alcohol interlocks: We know based on studies that people are less likely to re-offend when they are required to have an ignition interlock device in their vehicles.
DUI deaths are not accidents. They occur because someone made a decision to get in a vehicle while impaired and drive. If you or a loved one has been injured in a DUI collision, our California DUI victims’ attorneys are ready to help you seek justice on your behalf.