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Will New Cars in California Be Installed With Alcohol Detectors?

Posted by Lynn Gorelick | Oct 26, 2022 | 0 Comments

Over a year ago, we wrote about a proposed infrastructure bill that included a requirement for new vehicles to be equipped with drunk-driving detection systems. After a recent fatal drunk driving crash in California that claimed the lives of 9 people, there are renewed calls to require new cars to come with alcohol detection systems. 

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), driving under the influence of alcohol remains the leading cause of injury-involved highway crashes. In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol-impaired fatal crashes were up significantly over 2019, with more than 11,500 fatal drunk driving crashes in 2020.  

Impaired driving cases can be subject to the police officer's opinion on impaired driving instead of just the facts. Just because you were arrested for a DUI in Oakland or the East Bay does not mean you have to plead guilty. Before giving up your rights in court, contact an experienced California DUI defense lawyer who can explain your legal options to keep your license and avoid a criminal record.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Recommendations

The NTSB made recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to implement new vehicle technology to detect and restrict impaired driving. The driver detection systems have been in the plans for traffic safety for more than a decade. 

According to an NTSB "Reaching Zero" plan, there have been cooperative agreements to develop and test prototypes for alcohol measuring systems in vehicles. Some of the potential alcohol detection systems include:

  • Autoliv Breath-Based Technology 
  • Takata TruTouch Touch-Based Technology

The touch-based technology uses a touchpad interface and near-infrared light to measure alcohol concentration. The Autoliv system is a breath-based system that measures the driver's BAC. Like a preliminary breath test, breathalyzer, or ignition interlock device (IID), the device measures alcohol and carbon dioxide. The driver's BAC can be measured with an infrared sensor, which can trigger the automobile to disable starting and operating for a period of time until the driver is no longer above the limit. 

Alcohol detection devices that can disable driving functions in a car are known as Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS).  Unlike an IID, these devices are integrated into the vehicle and do not require blowing a breath into a device. Instead, the devices can measure the concentration of alcohol and carbon dioxide and instantly detect levels of alcohol. Based on the set limits of the device, it can disable the driving function with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, which is the limit for a per se DUI in California. 

According to the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS), “DADSS technology provides a real-time, highly precise and highly accurate, near instantaneous direct measurement of a driver's impairment by alcohol.”  At the present time, there are no laws requiring these alcohol detection systems in vehicles. 

Arrested for a DUI in Oakland or Alameda County?

East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 39 years of DUI experience and understands the consequences for students arrested for a DUI. Representing drivers in Contra Costa and Alameda County, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the local DUI laws, local officers, and the prosecutors involved. Contact East Bay DUI defense lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.

About the Author

Lynn Gorelick

Lynn Gorelick has been an attorney for over 38 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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