Fact Check: Breathalyzers in new cars? | WHEC.com

Fact Check: Breathalyzers in new cars?

Nikki Rudd
Updated: August 17, 2021 09:45 AM
Created: August 17, 2021 05:20 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC)— We continue to learn more about the huge infrastructure bill making its way through Congress. Did you hear breathalyzers could soon be required for all new cars? That's a claim going around on social media. 

One woman on Facebook posted this: "All cars will require a breathalyzer if this new infrastructure bill passes. More control over us! Hope you don't drink too much the night before you have to go to work the next morning. You won't be driving anywhere." 

News10NBC's Nikki Rudd has a Fact Check. She spoke with Ken Snyder, who has been advocating for technology to stop drunk driving for years. His own daughter, Katie, was killed by a drunk driver weeks after giving birth to premature twins. 

"I really don't want anybody to have to go through the kind of hell that we went through," Snyder said. "11,000 people died last year because of drunk drivers. This has got to stop."

Snyder along with members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have been lobbying Congress to do something about it, and now it's happening. 

Take a look at the Infrastructure Bill on page 1066, Section 242-20. There you see it, "Advanced Impaired Technology."

Infastructure Bill by News10NBC

It calls for alcohol monitoring systems as standard equipment in new cars. However, it does not say anything about breathalyzers or ignition interlocks. Instead, this technology would passively monitor a driver or detect blood alcohol levels.

"A passive system means the driver doesn't have to do anything extra, anything different from what they normally do," Snyder explained. 

How would that work? Snyder says the technology is already out there. You know the cars that have lane assist and emergency braking? He says those same systems could monitor driving performance. 

"Volvo already does this for their cars that they sell in Europe," said Snyder. 
 
Cameras on the inside of the car could also be used to monitor the driver. They could track your eyes to see if you're nodding off or even texting while driving. 

"The system can say, 'Whoa. This person's impaired we need to pull over,'" Snyder said.  

Back to the claim that all cars will be required to have breathalyzers if this bill passes. Snyder says that is false. 

"A breathalyzer in every car isn't going to happen because the law does not allow that," explained Snyder. "The law allows for passive technologies." 

Here's the catch: There's also talk of a passive breathalyzer. It could be built into the steering wheel and could tell if the driver is drunk. The difference? The device would be able to take air in from the driver just breathing normally. 

Click here for a WEB EXTRA on the technology that could be used. 

So what's the timeline for all this? The rules would come out within three years of the infrastructure bill being passed. If more research is needed that deadline could be extended. After that, car manufacturers would have two to three years to have the technology in all new vehicles. 

Click here to watch a video produced by MADD about Ken Snyder's daughter, Katie. 

Click here for a fact sheet from MADD on the Drunk Driving Prevention Technology Provision in the Infrastructure Bill. 

Click here to view MADD's response to the Request for Information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Check out other Fact Checks here. If you have an idea for Fact Check, email Nikki Rudd at nrudd@whec.com.


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