blog home Car Safety Congress mandates new technology to prevent drunk driving: what you need to know

Congress mandates new technology to prevent drunk driving: what you need to know

By Ken Gibson on September 1, 2022

Drunk driving accidents claimed the lives of 236 Virginians and more than 10,000 people nationwide in a recent year. Now the federal government has taken serious steps to address this issue. Legislation passed by Congress requires automakers to develop technology that prevents automobiles from operating if the driver is intoxicated.

Under provisions of the trillion-dollar infrastructure bill enacted in November of 2021, future cars will be required to “passively monitor” drivers for signs of drunk driving.

It will take a few years for the new technology to become fully operational, but we could see cars that prohibit people from driving while under the influence as soon as 2026.

MADD president praises new legislation

This new federal legislation calls upon automakers to develop a system called Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (or DADSS). Carmakers are now exploring different types of technology that will be able to detect whether a person is too drunk to drive.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is working with automobile manufacturers to determine which new technology best meets the government’s goal of eliminating drunk driving.

Groups that advocate in favor of stricter laws and penalties to help prevent drunk driving have been working to implement DADSS for years. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) President Alex Otte was ecstatic about the new regulations. She said DADSS will “virtually eliminate the No. 1 killer on the road.”

How the new technology would work

Automakers are examining several options for cars that meet the DADSS standards. Types of technology currently under consideration by the NHTSA include:

  • Infrared cameras that monitor the driver’s movements and reactions, checking to see if the driver is paying attention to the road and searching for signs of impairment
  • Breathalyzers that determine the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC)
  • Fingertip-reading sensors that use infrared lights to detect the presence of alcohol in the blood flowing beneath the driver’s skin
  • Windshield or dashboard-based sensors that monitor the driver’s breathing patterns
  • Cameras that peer into the driver’s eyes to make sure they are constantly paying attention to the road

Drunk driving is a serious problem

There’s no question that drunk driving threatens everyone on the road. Drinking beyond the legal limit makes it impossible for a person to drive safely. Alcohol impairs the essential driving skills, including:

  • Vison
  • Steering
  • Judgment
  • Motor control
  • Reaction time
  • Concentration
  • Speed control

Experts disagree about the new law

Eliminating drunk driving is a laudable goal that’s overwhelmingly supported by lawmakers. But some civil rights advocates believe that mandatory DADSS technology is a violation of a car owner’s civil rights.

Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) is a group that receives support from many automakers. ACTS President compared mandatory DADDS compliance with “the phone company installing wiretaps in everyone’s home just to make sure that they don’t commit a crime in the future.”

Advocates of DADDS technology counter that driving on our roads is a privilege, and the benefits of this program far outweigh concerns about privacy violations. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety President David Harkey said that DADDS “could save more lives than airbags.”

Were you harmed by a careless driver?

At GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys, we know what it’s like to be hurt by a drunk driver. In fact, we consider it a calling to help you get the money you deserve to recover after an accident that wasn’t your fault.

We work on a contingency basis, meaning we get paid when you get paid. Call (804) 413-6777 today and ask about our no-fee guarantee, as well as how we can best help you.

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Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.

  • Safety Education
    GibsonSingleton launches a “Texts=Wrecks” campaign to reduce the number of people injured or killed by distracted drivers.
  • Annual Coat Drive
    During the fall, our team works to distribute coats to people in need in our community.
  • Hands-on Service
    John and Ken join the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in cleaning up the community.
  • Supporting Local Schools
    The Gibson family participates in Gloucester’s Botetourt Elementary Shuffle fundraiser.