Will new cars really test your BAC?

Our vehicles are getting smarter and smarter. Manufacturers are working on self-driving technology and improving safety features. One of the safety features on the minds of government officials and manufacturers involves testing to see if drivers are under the influence before they begin driving.

So, will the next car you buy be able to tell you if you have had too much to drink?

Perhaps, though not for a while

The National Transportation Safety Board has been recommending technology to test a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) for years. It could very well become a reality as of 2026, with the federal government’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. One of the many aspects of this law requires automakers to add such technology to their new vehicles.

Essentially, this technology would work like an ignition interlock device. Using breath tests or touch sensors, your vehicle would check your BAC before you drive and prevent you from driving if your BAC is over the legal limit.

3 things to know about this technology

There is still some time – and a lot of work required – before a BAC test in your vehicle becomes a reality. However, there are a few things you should know:

  • The legal limit still plays a role: As mentioned above, ignition interlock devices prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver’s BAC reaches the legal limit of 0.08% or higher. However, the car may still start if you are below the legal limit. You could face DUI charges if Tennessee police pull you over and find any alcohol in your system and charge you with DUI by impairment rather than based on your BAC.
  • Breath tests are not always accurate: Blood and urine tests are the most accurate to determine your BAC. So, there is a risk of inaccuracy should the in-vehicle technology rely on touch sensors or breath tests.
  • In-vehicle technology is still developing: New technologies, such as blind-spot detection and automatic braking can be helpful. However, they are not yet completely reliable. New technology often comes with glitches. It is important to be aware of this.

It is possible that this technology could help reduce the risks of DUIs nationwide. Even so, it is a long way off.

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