Turning to Tech to Stop Drunk Driving

The holiday season is here, and the wintry roads will soon fill with people driving home to see their family. After a few drinks, many people will attempt to navigate the dangerous road conditions, believing themselves to be sober enough for the challenge. However, a police officer’s breathalyzer test may state differently.

As the holidays approach, police mobilize to combat drunk driving, hoping to keep their communities safe for the festivities. Soon though, their job may become easier, as new advances in automotive safety technology seek to prevent drunk driving before it even starts.

The drunk driving epidemic

As long as there have been cars and alcohol, drunk driving has been a problem for Americans. The most recent study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that drunk driving is a factor in over one-third of all U.S. traffic deaths. DUI laws criminalize this behavior to prevent these deaths, but new technology may even be able to prevent people from making that mistake at all.

The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS)

Developed in a public-private partnership by the NHTSA and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, the DADSS technology mimics breathalyzer tests and ignition interlock devices. When a driver gets into a vehicle equipped with DADSS, the system reads the cabin’s ambient air. If the driver’s observable blood alcohol content (BAC) is above the legal limit of .08%, the system prevents the car from starting.

Researchers are currently conducting field tests of the equipment and anticipate including this technology on every new vehicle starting in 2024. The developers project that a universal deployment of DADSS could save nearly 5,000 lives every year. Two bipartisan lawmakers who support the system seek to introduce legislation that would make these systems available for car buyers.

Saving lives and saving futures

This technology aims not only to save lives but save the futures of those facing criminal charges. A DUI conviction can upend a young person’s life, preventing them from getting a job, securing a loan or renting an apartment. If you or a loved one currently face a DUI charge, you can find help from a local attorney familiar with Illinois’ motor vehicle laws.