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Bipartisan Senate infrastructure bill would mandate in-car drunk driving prevention technology

Compliant systems must "accurately detect whether the blood alcohol concentration of a driver" equals or exceeds legal limit, and if yes, "prevent or limit motor vehicle operation."

Updated: August 4, 2021 - 11:17pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The bipartisan $1.2 trillion Senate infrastructure bill would mandate in-car "drunk and impaired driving prevention technology" as standard equipment in vehicles.

"To ensure the prevention of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities, advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology must be standard equipment in all new passenger motor vehicles," the latest version of the legislation reads.

The bill defines the term "advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology" as a system that can "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."

The bill also defines such a system as one that can "passively and accurately detect whether the blood alcohol concentration of a driver of a motor vehicle is equal to or greater than the blood alcohol concentration described in section 163(a) of title 23" of United States Code as well as "prevent or limit motor vehicle operation if a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit is detected."

The bill instructs the Secretary of Transportation to "issue a final rule prescribing a federal motor vehicle safety standard under section 30111 of title 49, United States Code, that requires passenger motor vehicles manufactured after the effective date of that standard to be equipped with advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology." 

The compliance date of the rule issued "shall be not earlier than 2 years and not more than 3 years after the date on which that rule is issued" to allow vehicle manufacturers sufficient time for implementation of the new standard.

Intoxalock, a company that currently manufactures portable drunk driving prevention technology, is the "leading provider of ignition interlocks." 

According to Open Secrets, Intoxalock spent $220,000 on federal lobbying in 2020.

"Making roads safer is at our core of who we are at Intoxalock," Kimberly Williams, Intoxalock CEO, said in a press release. "Drunk driving continues to be a leading cause of deaths, and ignition interlock devices, like ours, are an effective tool at preventing drunk driving occurrences."

Just the News asked Intoxalock if their organization lobbied Congress for passage of a law making drunk driving prevention technology standard for new vehicles. Intoxalock did not respond before publication. 

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