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U.S. House takes a step toward tech that’ll eliminate drunk driving

Posted on August 10, 2020 in Breath Alcohol Testing

In the early part of July, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure that backers say could eventually eliminate drunk driving. The House passed a bill that would require auto manufacturers to include technology in all new vehicles that would function as an ignition interlock device.

Here’s how ignition interlocks work

Regular readers of our Arizona DUI Defense Blog know that state law mandates that drivers convicted of DUI must install an ignition interlock in their vehicle at their expense. The devices sample the driver’s breath; if an impermissible level of alcohol is detected, the vehicle will not start and cannot be driven.

The $1.5 trillion transportation and infrastructure bill passed by the House contains a provision directing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop within five years a rule mandating the inclusion of alcohol-detecting tech in each new vehicle.

Passive alcohol detection

Auto manufacturers are already jointly developing a passive alcohol-detection system with the federal government. Technologies being explored involve passive testing via the driver’s skin or by sampling air in the vehicle’s cabin, as well as camera-based driver-monitoring systems.

Once the passive system detects an alcohol level at or above .08 percent – the legal limit in Arizona – the vehicle will not start.

High-tech camera system coming

According to a news report, Volvo is rolling out vehicles later this year that will include camera technology that the Swedish automaker says will detect driver impairment.

Though the measure passed by the House is not yet law, it has cleared the first of three hurdles. Observers say the bill is unlikely to gain approval in the Senate – the next hurdle in the federal law-making process.

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