All too often, individuals do not get arrested for impaired driving offenses because they intended to drive drunk. Widespread misunderstandings about “how drunk” someone needs to be before they need to refrain from driving – as well as myths about what tactics other than time will sober someone up result in a lot of arrests of individuals who thought that they were sober enough to drive.
There is one practical solution to this public health crisis and the risk of incurring criminal penalties: testing the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of drivers before they are permitted to turn their vehicles on. While this approach wouldn’t solve impaired driving risks caused by medication and illicit drugs, it would lead to fewer crashes and fewer arrests of well-intentioned people.
What does the mandate say?
In 2021, Congress based a broad-based bipartisan infrastructure bill and the president signed it into law. Within the text of this bill is a mandate that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) start requiring newly-manufactured passenger vehicles to be outfitted with systems that prevent drunk driving.
Mandates like this often take years to bear fruit because there are a lot of moving parts involved in the implementation process. For example, the NHTSA will have to evaluate the kinds of systems available, ask for public comment regarding proposed plans of action and sort out compliance challenges.
Yet, the reality of this mandate is very hopeful. Not only are drunk driving accidents tragedies, many families are also impacted by the arrest and prosecution of individuals who thought they were “lawfully” drunk when they got behind the wheel. This effort will address both challenges once it is finally made a reality.
If you’ve made a mistake and are charged with drunk driving, it’s best to explore all your potential defenses with experienced legal guidance.