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Sobriety monitors may be required in all new cars under Biden infrastructure bill

Cars driving on the highway. (PxFuel/Released)
August 04, 2021

Buried in the 2,700-page infrastructure bill promoted by President Joe Biden is a provision that would require new cars to contain “advanced drunk and impaired driving technology” that would monitor a driver’s performance and detect if he or she is impaired.

According to the bill’s text, the technology would “passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired.” Additionally, the tech would “passively and accurately detect whether the blood alcohol concentration of the driver of a motor vehicle” is too high to safely drive and would prevent the car from being used.

President Joe Biden announced his support for the bill last last month, calling it “an investment that will make our economy more sustainable, resilient, and just.” The White House also described the bill as “a critical step in implementing President Biden’s Build Back Better vision.”

“It certainly looks like this opens the door for mandatory breathalyzers in every new car. It’s crazy,” a senior Republican aide who requested anonymity told the Washington Free Beacon.

The policy comes from an effort spearheaded by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

“The infrastructure bill awaiting a U.S. Senate vote includes the most significant, lifesaving public policy in MADD’s 41-year history. Requiring prevention tech in all new vehicles will mark the beginning of the end of drunk driving! #NoMoreVictims,” the group tweeted.

MADD also thanked Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), David McKinley (R-WV), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) for “helping to advance the policy.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 28 people die every day in the United States in drunk-driving crashes.

“With 10,000 deaths and 300,000 injuries every year caused by drunk driving, we cannot wait any longer to establish a standard for impaired driving technology that can be deployed on all new vehicles, drawing upon technology that exists today such as driver and driving monitoring,” MADD wrote in a statement.

“When signed into law, legislation leading to impaired driving prevention in all vehicles will be the most significant, lifesaving public policy in MADD’s history,” the group continued. “It will mark the beginning of the end of drunk driving.”

Earlier this week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) praised the bill as “bipartisan,” CBS News reported.

“This is an extremely important, bipartisan bill. There’s an excellent chance it will be a bipartisan success story for the country,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday. “To try to truncate the amendment process on something of this magnitude, I think is a mistake.”

Others criticized the legislation for including provisions that wouldn’t typically fall under infrastructure, including Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) who tweeted, “Now gender identity is infrastructure. Can’t wait to see what else is in this bill.”