On October 16, 2019 U.S. Senators Rick Scott (R. FL) and Tom Udall (D. UT) have jointly proposed legislation known as the Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act of 2019 or the RIDE Act of 2019. According to Senator Scott’s website, the proposed law will “fund the technology transfer of federally funded research and development of advanced alcohol detection software – technology that detects whether a driver is impaired over the legal limit and, if so, prevents that driver from starting the car. This legislation sets up a pilot program for fleet deployment of vehicles equipped with this software with the federal General Services Administration, state and local partners, and private fleet owners. It also requires a rulemaking to mandate installment of this software in every new vehicle. If all vehicles were equipped with this advanced alcohol detection technology, an estimated 7,000 lives could be saved every year. The bill is supported by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the National Safety Council.”
The official summary of this 2019-2020 bill (S.2604) states that the proposed law mandates, “… the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to work with vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, and other entities to advance the technology developed by the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety Research Program and other advanced drunk driving prevention technology with the goal of integrating such technology into new vehicles.
The NHTSA must
- demonstrate advanced drunk driving prevention technology in not fewer than 2,500 vehicles in federal fleets; and
- implement a program to encourage the use of advanced drunk driving prevention technology in state and local government fleets, and private sector fleets.”
The actual language of Senate Bill 2604 may be found here. How this bill (if approved as a law) affects vehicle manufacturers and our current lives remains to be seen. As of the end of July, 2020 the bill has been read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
The technology exists to make vehicles and our roads safer from intoxicated drivers—although more so from alcohol impaired drivers than drug impaired drivers. Perhaps this will incentivize our government and vehicle manufacturers to make driving safer for all. Even drunk driving defense lawyers are in favor of safer roads—as long as it doesn’t violate our constitutional rights and that the technology is accurate.
About the Author: Steven Oberman has been licensed in Tennessee since 1980, and successfully defended over 2,500 DUI defendants. Among the many honors bestowed upon him, Steve has served as Dean of the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. (NCDD) and currently serves as chair of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers DUI Committee. Steve was the first lawyer in Tennessee to be Board Certified as a DUI Defense Specialist by the NCDD.
He is the author of DUI: The Crime & Consequences in Tennessee, updated annually since 1991 (Thomson-West), and co-author with Lawrence Taylor of the national treatise, Drunk Driving Defense, 8th edition (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen). Steve has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee Law School since 1993 and has received a number of prestigious awards for his faculty contributions. He is a popular international speaker, having spoken at legal seminars in 30 states, the District of Columbia and six foreign countries. After being named a Fulbright Scholar, Steve was honored to teach as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Latvia Law School in the capital city of Riga, Latvia during the Spring Semester of 2019. If you would like to contact the author, please visit his website at www.tndui.com.