Could technology really prevent DUIs?

In Tennessee, even a first-time DUI offense could result in the requirement to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. These devices obligate drivers to test their breath – and blood alcohol content (BAC) – before they can drive.

Installing the ignition interlock device is one of the consequences of a DUI conviction. However, lawmakers want to use such technology to prevent drunk driving altogether.

New initiative for anti-DUI technologies

The idea of using technology to prevent drunk driving and DUIs is nothing new. After all, that is the purpose of the ignition interlock device. However, it was not until around 2015 that the campaign for anti-DUI technologies built into vehicles right off the market really gained traction.

These technologies included:

  • Sensors near the driver’s seat that test the driver’s breath
  • Scanners that detect alcohol in the bloodstream
  • Cameras behind the steering wheel that detect differences in the driver’s attention

Now there is even more of a push to add these technologies to vehicles, particularly a breath-analyzing interlock. The technology exists, but these devices are still not commonplace in consumer vehicles, though several safety organizations say that they could become more common within the next few years.

What would this mean for drivers?

For many people, the first instinct might be to worry about having a built-in ignition interlock device. It is considered a penalty now. However, this technology could be beneficial.

If it prevents individuals from drunk driving, it could also:

  • Help individuals avoid criminal charges that put their future at risk
  • Reduce the risk of serious traffic accidents

It would not be a penalty. The anti-DUI technology would be similar to the driver assistance technologies that are already in several vehicles on the road. It would not even require drivers to physically breathe into the device.

Even so, new technology always comes with a risk. Some in-vehicle technologies are not always reliable, such as pedestrian detection systems. If the technology is not up to par, or it malfunctions, drivers could still face risks.

The future of this technology is still uncertain. Lawmakers and auto manufacturers do not agree about the timing of mandates or rules regarding the use of current technologies. And many reports say there is a long way to go before anti-DUI technologies will be truly effective.

However, measures that could prevent a DUI and the life-changing consequences of a conviction could make a big difference.

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