Criminal Defense Lawyer Norfolk, VA and throughout Hampton Roads
Criminal Defense Lawyer Norfolk, VA and throughout Hampton Roads

NHTSA Advances Tech to End Drunk Driving Nationwide

Blurry POV of a drunk driver driving at night in the city.

How anti-DUI technology may affect your rights

A recent proposal by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to equip new vehicles with mandatory anti-impaired driving technology promises to prevent thousands of fatal drunk driving crashes.

But that's not all it could potentially do. At first glance, the benefits are clear — fewer people operating vehicles under the influence of alcohol or drugs would almost certainly mean safer roads. We could use that. In Virginia last year, 230 people died in alcohol-related crashes. However, it's important to consider the full extent of how these measures could affect individual drivers, especially those who might find themselves facing DUI charges.

What is the NHTSA proposing?

The NHTSA's proposal aims to reduce the number of drunk-driving incidents by mandating that new passenger vehicles come installed with systems capable of detecting an impaired driver. If impairment is detected, the vehicle might not operate. The exact specifications of the technologies are yet to be finalized.

However, the NHTSA is considering two primary technologies – those that conduct blood or breath alcohol screenings and observational measures for objectively determining impairment. In general, here's how the proposed technology would work:

  • Tests and screenings. These passive detection systems measure alcohol levels in the driver's breath or through touch sensors. The vehicle might not start or move if the results exceed the BAC limit.
  • Objective measures. Driver-monitoring systems use special cameras and sensors to identify signs of impairment based on the driver's behavior, such as steering patterns, braking, and how the driver interacts with systems in the vehicle.

The NHTSA has suggested that the technology behind passive driver assistance systems like automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive lighting may also be utilized to prevent serious and fatal accidents involving drunk drivers.

Questions about accuracy and impact

It is important to take steps to prevent drunk driving accidents. However, meeting safety standards should not infringe on a driver's rights. Therefore, it's important to consider the potential for system errors and data misuse in anti-DUI technology. Critical questions about how the advanced systems may affect our rights and privacy should be satisfactorily addressed before mandatory widespread adoption. Some of the biggest questions yet to be answered include:

  • How accurate is anti-DUI technology? For example, can it differentiate between someone who had a glass of wine with dinner an hour ago and someone with a 0.08% or higher BAC?
  • What happens if the technology falsely identifies a sober driver as impaired?
  • Are people with certain disabilities at a higher risk of being falsely classified as being intoxicated?
  • When would the system check the driver? Would the system check when the driver attempts to start their car? Or would the tech continue to monitor drivers while they're behind the wheel?
  • How will this technology interact with established legal processes, such as the right to refuse a breathalyzer test? Will the new technology bypass these rights, potentially conflicting with existing laws?
  • Will this anti-DUI technology track and store your driving data? If so, who will access that information, and is there a risk it could be used inappropriately?

It's worth noting that the NHTSA initiative aligns with Virginia's tough stance on DUI offenses and the state's ongoing efforts to improve road safety. The Commonwealth's court system doesn't take DUI charges lightly, and neither should you.

High-tech evidence is not 100 percent accurate

If the NHTSA's proposal goes into effect, it will mark an era of advanced DUI prevention technology with the potential for mistakes. At Welch & Wright, PLLC, it is our job to stay abreast of these advancements and always be prepared to defend your rights to the fullest.

Based in Norfolk, our DUI defense attorneys know how to analyze evidence and find the facts that matter to build the strongest possible defense. If you were charged with DUI in Norfolk or another Hampton Roads community, contact us for a free case evaluation. Let our years of successful DUI defense experience protect your rights and your freedom.

Categories: Posts
Criminal Defense Attorneys
Who Will Fight For Your Rights
Free Consultation. Contact Us Today.

    Welch & Wright, PLLC
    The law firm you want
    when your future is on the line
    Click Here