New cars sold in Texas and around the country could soon be equipped with devices designed to detect alcohol. The devices would be mandated safety equipment in all passenger vehicles sold in America if the Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act is approved by Congress and signed by President Trump. Bills introduced in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives have bipartisan support. The lawmakers backing the bills believe the legislation could save about 7,000 lives every year. Drunk driving crashes in the United States kill about 30 road users every day.
Press releases announcing the RIDE Act do not contain details about the technology that will be used to detect alcohol. This is likely because carmakers do not yet have systems ready to deploy. The law will provide funding for a series of pilot programs that will test and evaluate potential solutions over the next two years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also working with car manufacturers to develop alcohol detection systems.
This delay suggests that the mandated devices will not require drivers to provide a breath sample. Ignition interlock devices that analyze breath samples are currently used in most states to prevent convicted drunk drivers from reoffending. IIDs are intrusive and relatively easy to bypass, but they have proven to be extremely effective. The road safety advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving says that IIDs have prevented at least 3 million intoxicated motorists from driving since 2006.
Impaired drivers who cause car accidents that result in serious injury or death are sometimes killed or sent to prison for years. Their victims may feel that this makes pursuing a lawsuit pointless as a deceased or incarcerated defendant is unable to make financial restitution. Experienced personal injury attorneys could explain that other options are available in such situations such as filing a lawsuit against the drunk driver’s estate or auto insurance company.