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Infrastructure Bill Could Require Drunk Driving Detection Systems in New California Cars

Posted by Lynn Gorelick | Aug 26, 2021 | 0 Comments

The proposed $1 trillion infrastructure bill has a requirement for new vehicles to be equipped with a drunk-driving detection system. Impaired driving technology can monitor the driver and vehicle for drivers that may be impaired, tired, or distracted. However, some people are concerned about their privacy in the vehicle that could be monitored or subject to defects. 

DUI Detection System Advocates

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell from Michigan has been a proponent of impaired driving safety measures for a long time. Dingell has championed the anti-drunk driving technology Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS). According to the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS), the first products equipped with DADSS technology will be available in commercial vehicles this year. 

Impaired Driving Detection Technology

According to ACTS, “DADSS technology provides a real-time, highly precise and highly accurate, near instantaneous direct measurement of a driver's impairment by alcohol.” However, the first-generation system is more like an ignition interlock device (IID) that is already in use to test drivers for alcohol in their breath in order to start and operate the vehicle. 

The proposed system would only require a limited breath sample, “like blowing out a candle.” The breath-based system could be located in the instrument panel, on the steering wheel, or even on the driver's side of the door frame. The system samples the driver's exhaled breath to measure the concentration of alcohol and carbon dioxide. Almost instantaneously, the breath testing could identify triggering levels of alcohol. 

Using multiple test sensors around the vehicle is also being tested as a way to differentiate between the driver's breath and any passengers in the vehicle who might legally be drinking alcohol.   

Another system being tested would use a touch system. The touch system could shine an infrared light through the driver's fingertip to detect alcohol beneath the skin's surface. Wavelength sources can take multiple readings in less than a second and could detect the presence of ethanol from drinking an alcoholic beverage. 

Existing Alcohol Testing for Drivers with DUIs

Ignition interlock devices have been around for years. For a number of years, California required IIDs after a drunk driving conviction through a pilot program in 4 counties, including Alameda County. In 2019, California made IIDs mandatory for a DUI conviction state-wide. 

Under California law, an eligible individual whose license has been suspended for a DUI can be eligible for a restricted driver's license if the person installs an IID. The IID restricted license period depends on the conviction, from 6 months for a first offense to a 3-year IID for a fourth DUI. 

The IID is installed on the car's steering column and requires the driver to blow an alcohol-free breath into the device to start the vehicle. The IID will require “rolling” samples every 5 to 15 minutes, and then about every 45 minutes. The driver has six minutes to blow a clean breath into the device, or the failure will be reported to the court.

Another existing alcohol testing system is known as the SCRAM bracelet. SCRAM monitors are worn around the ankle and take rolling samples of the wearer's skin and sweat to look for alcohol. The Continuous Alcohol Monitoring (CAM) system uses transdermal testing to detect alcohol coming through the body about every 30 seconds. 

DUI Defense in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties

With over 37 years of experience, Lynn Gorelick understands the penalties of a DUI conviction and how to fight to keep a conviction off your record. If you are facing a DUI, contact the local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands that you do not have to plead guilty just because you were arrested. 

About the Author

Lynn Gorelick

Lynn Gorelick has been an attorney for over 36 years. She is the Attorney Lynn Gorelick is the Immediate Past President of the California DUI Lawyers Association and a Faculty and Sustaining member of the National College of DUI Defense. Lynn is a Specialist Member of the California DUI Lawyers Association and lectures frequently to other attorneys regarding DUI and DMV issues.

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