Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) have been in place in Los Angeles County and three other California counties since 2010, and a bill was signed into law in September mandating that IIDs will be used statewide by 2019. These devices are installed in the vehicles of previous DUI offenders, and prevent the ignition from starting if results on an attached breathalyzer are above legal limits for driving. Now, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants to push to have these devices installed in every vehicle in the country—effectively ending drunk driving.
In a press release published on December 14, the NHTSA announced the commencement of their annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, which is designed to draw attention to the risks of drunk driving during the holiday season. The agency also discussed their progress in the development of technology called the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS), which is a blood-alcohol monitoring system installed in vehicles to prevent drunk driving.
“Each year, too many lives are lost to drunk driving, particularly around the holiday season. Now we have an opportunity to prevent future drunk driving tragedies by taking action today,” said U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We want everyone to be safe this holiday season, which is why we're urging the public to make the right choice, follow the law and drive sober.”
According to the NHTSA press release, federal officials and officials from Virginia have contributed $5.1 million in funding to help speed the development and deployment of DADSS, which is part of a public-private partnership between the government and 17 of the top automakers in the U.S. to end drunk driving. Ultimately, this technology will ideally be employed in all 50 states to prevent drivers with BAC at or above the 0.08 legal limit from starting a vehicle.
“Drunk driving crashes are no accident – they are 100 percent preventable. They all connect back to human choices and errors, but we're not stopping there,” said NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind. “With the help of our safety partners we're looking at a technological path forward to create a world where there is no more drunk driving.”
The DADSS program began in 2008 with research into different software and technologies that could accurately assess blood alcohol levels. In a second phase, the sensors were fine-tuned to improve their performance. Now, the third phase is underway to test the way human interaction may affect or impede this software—basically, the goal of this phase is to eliminate the possibility of “cheating.”
The NHTSA states that in the year 2015, drunk driving resulted in 10,265 deaths in the U.S., and that 259 of these deaths occurred between the Christmas and New Year's holiday periods.
In June 2016, the California DMV reported that the use of ignition interlock devices was substantially beneficial in the reduction of repeat drunk driving offenses. With the eventual implementation of the NHTSA's DADSS technology, the nation may see a substantial reduction in the number of first drunk driving offenses.
Drunk driving is reckless, irresponsible, and a danger to not only the drivers and their passengers but everybody else on the road. As seasoned criminal defense lawyers, we have seen first-hand the devastation drunk driving can cause. However, we have also seen multiple individuals charged with DUI when they were not, in fact, intoxicated, as well as individuals for whom the proper legal process was not adhered to when they were arrested for DUI. If you believe you have been unjustly accused of driving drunk or another criminal offense or if you seek assistance in assuring that you are not over-punished for your offenses, please contact us today to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney in the Los Angeles area.