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What Are New Congressional Mandates to Prevent Drunk Driving?

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Drunk or impaired driving in the United States has been a huge problem for many decades. Despite harsh driving under the influence (DUI) laws in every state, driving while impaired continues to be a major issue, causing car accidents that result in tens of thousands of serious injuries and deaths every year. Over the past several months, Congress and the Biden administration have been working on an infrastructure bill. Parts of the bill focus on measures to force the automobile manufacturing industry to increase driver and passenger safety. Approximately $17 billion has been allocated for road safety programs. One of those programs is designed to install monitoring systems in vehicles that would prevent intoxicated drivers from driving their vehicle.

Why Is DUI Such a Serious Problem in the United States?

Every day in the United States, approximately 28 people die in drunk driving accidents. In 2019 alone, 10,142 people lost their lives in DUI-related accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), an alcohol-related drunk driving death occurs every 52 minutes. About one-third of all traffic-related deaths occur in DUI accidents. In 2018, more than 230 children were killed in drunk driving collisions. All told, the economic costs of drinking and driving is more than $44 billion in deaths and damages annually. Men are four times as likely to be involved in a DUI accident than women. Accordingly, men account for 80 percent of drunk driving fatalities.

Up until the mid-1990s, the DUI blood alcohol limits throughout the country were haphazard, with many states having quite varied BAC limits. However, beginning in the 1990s, there was a huge push to get all states to lower their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit to .08 percent. If you were driving with .08 percent blood alcohol content, you could be arrested for DUI. At this point, all states have a DUI limit of .08 percent BAC with the exception of Utah, which has an even harsher limit at .05 percent BAC. But these harsher laws and penalties appear to have not worked as well as the experts and lawmakers wished. Drunk and drugged driving is still a major problem.

Drunk Driving Prevention Technology

The infrastructure bill requires automobile manufacturers to implement certain technologies to prevent drunk driving by 2026. Some experts say that this mandate has the capability to virtually eliminate drunk driving deaths in our country. The legislation does not specify the technology, only that it must: passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired.

One system that will probably be used, among others, is an infrared camera system that monitors the driver and their actions while behind the wheel. The cameras will alert the driver if their attention leaves the road or if they are driving erratically and not staying in their lane. After the warning, if the driver continues to drive dangerously or continues to fall asleep, the vehicle will turn on its hazard lights and automatically pull over to the side of the road and stop. This type of system is already being installed in some new vehicles in association with automated driver assist systems.

Even though many states currently use ignition interlock devices attached to a breathalyzer for people convicted of drunk driving, experts determined that the public would not use these kinds of devices. There are other devices and systems that are also being tested to see if they would be viable integrating them into new vehicles. One sensor would determine a person’s BAC level by testing the ambient air in the vehicle. If the air sensor detects a certain level of alcohol from the driver’s breath, the vehicle will not turn on.

Time to Install the Technology

As indicated, the current plan is to have some type of alcohol detection system installed in all new vehicles by 2026. However, experts say that it will take a lot longer to see a difference, owing to the number of older vehicles currently in use. It has been suggested that once all new vehicles are equipped with the safety systems, it will still take another 12 years before they become common enough in the United States to save 4,596 lives a year. But this is only a fraction of the lives that could be saved or the tens of thousands of injuries prevented when almost all vehicles are equipped.

It is estimated that there are currently 282 million vehicles currently registered to be in use in the United States. Obviously, it will take a significant amount of time for all these vehicles to phase out of use. It could take decades for most of our national fleet to be equipped with DUI prevention systems.

How to Avoid Getting a DUI Charge

Being stopped, arrested, and charged with DUI does not happen by accident. It just does not happen to people. They usually make choices that put themselves in the position of driving drunk. Because of this, it is pretty easy to avoid being arrested for impaired driving. Trying most of these tips and tricks do not affect your ability to go out and still have fun. These are the things that you should focus on to prevent driving drunk and potentially hurting yourself and someone else:

  • The best way to prevent a DUI arrest is to just stay home. You cannot be arrested for DUI if you are sitting on your couch all night.
  • If you do go out, make a plan. If you are going to be drinking, make sure you have a ride home. You could also plan to not drink and agree to be designated driver for your friends.
  • Have a designated driver who promises to not drink alcohol at all.
  • It is easy to order a rideshare car with services such as Uber and Lyft. Just use the app on your phone and an inexpensive, safe ride home will just be a few clicks away. If Uber or Lyft is not available, many bartenders will help call a cab for you.
  • If the party is taking place at or near a hotel, plan on staying there for the night.
  • If you do decide to drink, make sure you understand how much time it will take for you to be sober to drive again. Most people do not realize how long it takes for alcohol to be processed through the body to where it no longer affects you. The general rule is that it takes one hour to process each drink that is consumed by the average person. Before you get behind the wheel, make sure that you are completely sober so that you can get home safe. Do not just consider yourself sober enough and decide to drive. You may not be at the legal limit of .08 percent, but you are still impaired to the point at which you cannot drive safely. The police may not be able to charge you with DUI, but you still might be impaired enough to cause an accident that hurts yourself and someone else.

Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC, Help  Clients Injured by a Drunk Driver

There are so many impaired drivers on the roads and highways of Philadelphia and the United States, that the risk of being seriously injured in a DUI accident is surprisingly high. But you do not have to recover from such an accident alone. The Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC, are ready to help. Our experienced team will investigate the cause of the accident and hold the negligent party accountable. Call us today at 215-569-4888 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.