After a long day, you, like many Americans, head out to the bars with friends to relieve some stress. As the evening ends, you head out to your car, believing that those few drinks will not impair your driving. Before you start the engine, you hear a quiet beep informing you that you are too drunk to drive.

This new technology may one day become standard on all cars in the United States. Developed by a private-public partnership, the Driver Alcohol Detection Safety System (DADSS) can test your blood alcohol content before starting your car.

How the new system works

The DADSS takes inspiration from standard ignition interlock devices (IID). Courts order installing these testing devices in cars belonging to those convicted of a DWI, forcing a breath test for blood alcohol content (BAC) before enabling the engine. The DADSS works similarly, testing the ambient air in the vehicle’s cabin. If the system detects a BAC over the legal limit of .08, it will prevent vehicle operation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drunk drivers cause nearly one-third of all traffic deaths. The DADSS works to prevent drunk driving before it even starts. Researchers estimate that the technology could eventually save up to 10,000 lives every year.

Lawmakers support new regulations

The new technology has garnered support from federal lawmakers. Two senators are working on a bill that would mandate the technology on all new cars by 2024. Testing is currently underway, and engineers anticipate they will be able to meet this projected demand.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted a survey that found nearly two-thirds of respondents would support mandated installation, as long as the system was fast and inconspicuous.

New regulations mean new legal battles

Courts will test the new regulations should they become law. If you face challenges with a drunk driving charge or false positive on a breath test, you can bring your questions to a local attorney familiar with North Carolina’s DWI laws.