According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, someone is killed in an alcohol-related crash every 50 minutes around the country. Further, in some areas of California, such as San Diego County, DUI cases are actually increasing.
To decisively deal with the issue, some traffic safety advocates are pushing for anti-drunk driving technology to be included in new vehicles by 2024. One such device, called the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, has been developed by the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety. It uses breath-based and touch-based sensors to determine if a driver has a blood alcohol content level at or above .08. If he or she does, the vehicle will start but won’t be able to move.
Some opponents of the device fear it won’t provide accurate results. Others, including the American Beverage Institute, are concerned that automakers will set the blood alcohol content limit much lower than .08 to avoid legal liability in crashes, making it impossible for people to drive their cars if they have levels as low as .02 or .03 in their systems. The device’s manufacturer claims it is extensively testing the device to ensure its accuracy. Meanwhile, the U.S. House and Senate have both introduced bills to mandate the use of alcohol detection devices in new vehicles in the near future. Neither bill has yet been passed.
DUI convictions can lead to harsh consequences, including jail time, steep fines and driver’s license suspension. Individuals facing drunk driving charges may benefit from contacting a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The attorney might be able to successfully dispute the accuracy of any blood alcohol tests that were performed, which could cause the charges to be dropped. Another possibility could involve negotiating a plea deal that reduces the charges, sparing the defendant from some penalties.