For years, researchers and inventors have been working on new technologies to reduce or prevent instances of drunk driving. Ignition interlock devices (IID) designed to measure a driver's with measurable BAC level's from being able to drive are already in widespread use, and the State of Texas mandates them for certain drivers convicted of DWI, or charged with a DWI-2nd offense or more.
However, even newer, more advanced technology is in the works that could prevent any intoxicated driver from starting a motorized vehicle. And if legislators have their way, this technology will eventually be installed in every vehicle made—potentially making DWI a thing of the past.
Last fall, Senators Rick Scott (R-FL) and Tom Udall (D-NM) officially introduced a bipartisan-sponsored bill titled the Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act of 2019 (RIDE), under which all new vehicles manufactured will be required to include impaired driving prevention technology within four years of the bill's passage. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) has introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.
According to CNET, this advanced technology is already in the pipeline. Unlike IIDs, which include a breath tube and can easily be bypassed, the new technology involves infrared sensory devices that could be implanted in contact points like a steering wheel or push-button ignition. The sensors can measure a driver's BAC by shining infrared light through the skin of the fingers. If the sensors determine the BAC is too high, the vehicle simply won't start. Other sensory technologies being explored include breath and eye movement sensors.
As fascinating as the technology sounds, the concept of DWI-proof vehicles still raises some questions about safety and the efficacy of its use. For example, what happens if the technology provides a false positive—or even worse, a false negative? Who might be legally liable if someone dies from a DWI accident due to failed or bypassed technology? Could there be a legal liability if a car fails to operate based on a false positive, especially if the failure to operate results in personal loss, loss of income, or results in a bad accident, etc.?
Then, of course, there are privacy questions. Could such technology be used (or hacked) to expose and transmit someone's personal or medical information? Could the technology ultimately be used for policing purposes, rather than simply preventative ones intruding on Americans right to be free from unreasonable searches.
At the same time, proponents of the technology make the argument that traditional methods of reducing drunk driving incidents have perhaps had some effect, but not nearly enough. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), while the number of drunk driving fatalities is down by about one-third over the past three years, DWI and DUI-related accidents still kill about 30 people a day in the United States, or more than 10,000 people per year.
“The fact is that deaths from drunk driving are completely preventable – so we have an obligation to do everything we can to prevent such senseless tragedies,” said Senator Udall during the introduction of the RIDE act. “I've been in this fight for a long time, and we've made real progress. But we are still losing thousands of lives each year to drunk driving crashes.”
Will this new technology one day eliminate all DWI incidents? That, of course, remains to be seen. For now, most DWI prevention remains a matter of personal responsibility. If you have recently been arrested on DWI charges, you could face severe penalties if convicted. Our experienced attorneys can represent your interests and protect your right to due process. Contact our office today for a free case evaluation.