DUI Prevention Technology Required for All New Cars Starting in 2026
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was signed into law by President Biden on November 15, 2021. This federal law requires that advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology be installed as standard equipment in all new vehicles in the U.S., possibly as early as 2026. This is the Biden administration’s solution to rising drunk driving fatalities in recent years.
What Are the Recent Trends in Intoxicated Driving?
- Drunk driving has been a major threat on U.S. roadways. Approximately 28 people are killed every day in drunk-driving crashes, which amounts to one death every 52 minutes, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- In the most recent year for which statistics are available, 10,142 people lost their lives in alcohol-impaired driving accidents.
- Drunk driving fatalities had declined from 2018 to 2019. Drunk driving deaths totaled 36,096 in 2019, as compared to 36,835 in 2018.
- The global pandemic brought a reverse in this trend. As of September 2020, alcohol-related traffic fatalities had increased by nearly 5% over the same period in the previous year, although total vehicle miles traveled had decreased by approximately 14.5%.
- The overall traffic fatality rate increased from 1.10 to 1.35 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in a single year, from 2019 to 2020.
How Does Advanced Alcohol-impaired Driving Prevention Technology Work?
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act calls for “advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology.” This term is defined as a system that can either:
- Passively monitor the performance of the driver to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired; and
- Prevent or limit operation of the motor vehicle if impairment is detected; or
- Passively and accurately detect whether a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is equal to or greater than the legal limit; and
- Prevent or limit operation of the vehicle when BAC above the legal limit is detected; or
- Operate as a combination of the above systems.
Why Did Congress Create a Mandate to Install This Technology in All New Cars?
Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that mandates impaired driving prevention technology in new vehicles to help prevent alcohol or drug impaired driving. This bill was introduced in response to increasing traffic fatalities during the pandemic, after traffic deaths had been down trending for decades. Drunk driving fatalities in the U.S. have spiked since the lockdowns began in 2020, despite the fact that vehicle miles traveled decreased by more than 430 billion. These statistics were enough to convince Congress to pass the legislation.