Bill would require alcohol detecting device in all new cars

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Every year across the United States, thousands of drivers are arrested for driving under the influence.

Now, an effort on Capitol Hill aims to cut down that number, by stopping drunk driving before it happens.

The bill, called the Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone (or RIDE) Act of 2019, was introduced by Sens. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Tom Udall, D-NM, on Wednesday.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving Hawaii said the bill is “the holy grail to prevent drunk driving.” 

The RIDE Act would create a $10 million pilot program to research devices that could detect a driver’s blood-alcohol level once you enter a car.

Unlike a breathalyzer, MADD said drivers wouldn’t even know their car is detecting them.

“She or he could perhaps put their thumb on the starter and infrared will harmlessly go through the skin and detect the alcohol content in their blood and if it’s above a certain level the car won’t start,” explained Arkie Koehl, MADD Hawaii chairman of the public policy committee advisory board.

He also said a sensor could be installed in steering wheels.

“Either way, there’s nothing they [the driver] has to do,” he said.

If passed, all car manufacturers would be required to install the device.

KHON2 asked Koehl if drivers would feel like it’s an invasion of privacy.

“Maybe it’s an invasion of privacy, maybe it’s not—we’re going to damn well do it because we’re trying to save your life,” he said.

“Drunk driving is the number one cause of death on America’s roadways. Deaths that are 100% preventable,” Sen. Scott said.

Hawaii first started using ignition interlock devices in 2011.

Koehl said the devices have prevented people from driving drunk 100,000 times in Hawaii alone, but it still hasn’t eliminated the problem.

According to HPD reports, there were more than 7,616 DUI arrests in 2017 and 2018 combined on Oahu.

Sadly, the RIDE Act stated that 10,874 people were killed nationwide in 2017 from alcohol-related crashes.

The bills pilot program aims to implement new technology in every new car by 2024.

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