Beebe and O'Neil

Lawmakers aim to make cars not start if a motorist is intoxicated

Late last month, lawmakers revealed that the federal government has invested significant monetary resources in its Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety Program (DADSSP). Lawmakers expect the DADSSP system to make it where cars can't be started if it determines that a motorist has a blood alcohol content (BAC) above the legal limit here in Connecticut or elsewhere in the country.

Federal lawmakers are pushing for the Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone (RIDE) Act to go into full effect by 2024. Once it does, all new trucks and cars sold in the U.S. will be required to have a passive alcohol detection system (ADS) installed on them.

The New Mexico and Florida legislators that have been responsible for championing this bill argue that the ADS that they plan to make automobile manufacturers install on trucks and cars will go virtually unnoticed to drivers. They envision this device taking the form of a touch-based sensor that can monitor a motorist's BAC in real-time.

Legislators plan to allocate the $10 million in additional funding to hone this technology. The lawmakers argue that they'll need another $25 million to carry out their plans to install the ADS device on the federal government's large fleet of vehicles.

The lawmakers that are supporting this bill have acknowledged that getting this bill passed has been far from an easy road to go down. Auto industry lobbyists have fought them every step of the way to not have to install the device on vehicles. The bill's supporters point out that lobbyists fought lawmakers to try to keep them from having to install seat belts or air bags in cars in the past. These are now standard features on vehicles that have saved countless lives.

Data published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that one-third of all crashes that happen each year involve drunk drivers. Nearly 11,000 people lost their lives in such accidents in 2017.

If you were stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence or have caused an alcohol-related crash, then the penalties can be stiff if you're convicted of such a criminal offense. An attorney can advise you of the penalties that you're facing and let you know what strategies you may be able to pursue in your Norwich criminal case.

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