Government Wants to Turn-Off Cars of Drunks

Nov 19, 2021 | Allen A. Ritchie


Could every car in the U.S. soon have a built-in breathalyzer?

Here is the reality. Within 5 years, you might only be able to buy a car that prevents a drunk from driving it.

Congress is paying for the development of new technology, which could, by law, be in every car sold in our country. The first steps are in the new infrastructure bill recently signed by President Biden. The bill demands that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study alcohol-detection systems and create rules to implement them. The NHTSA has 3 years to complete its work, and then carmakers will have 2 years to comply.

Congress is very firm that the system should not require any action by the driver to trigger the “no start” operation.

The breathalyzer system, court-ordered for some convicted drunk drivers in Alabama, requires the driver to blow into the unit. If the unit detects that the driver’s blood-alcohol level is too high, the car will not start.

One industry observer says that the use of cameras and sensors is the most viable solution. He speculated that it could be as common as seatbelts within a decade and save thousands of lives. According to the NHTSA, an estimated 10,000 people die from drunk driving accidents each year.

This new mandate will create some legal concerns. For example, if there is a problem, is the driver or the manufacturer at fault? Will personal auto insurance cover malfunctions? And here is the real irony, if a drunk driver kills someone because of a malfunctioning system, will the carmaker have to pay and not the drunk driver?

We at Eiland and Ritchie will keep you posted.

If you suffer a personal injury like an auto/truck accident, railroad accident, or slip and fall, you can talk to us at the Law Firm of Eiland and Ritchie for free. We want to help you get back on your feet.

Join us on NBC 15 LawCall here in Mobile every Sunday night at 10:30, right after the news. We are taking a fall break and will offer 5-minute segments for the rest of the year and a live call-in segment every Monday on NBC 15 at around lunchtime.

Allen Ritchie

Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer