BETHESDA, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - Police departments will be out in full force over the St. Patrick's Day weekend looking for drunk drivers — but, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or M.A.D.D., is hoping that one day, we won't need DUI checkpoints. Instead, they hope cars will stop people from driving drunk.
These days, cars have tons of automated safety features, like automatic braking. Now, there’s new technology that can tell if a driver is over the legal limit and stop them from turning on their car.
J.T. Griffin, the chief government affairs officer at M.A.D.D. says that's exactly why the nonprofit organizations wants this new technology out of the lab and into every car.
“It would be integrated into the car and so when the driver gets into the vehicle. You wouldn't even know the technology was in your car unless you are legally drunk — .08 or above,” said Griffin.
The DADSS research program in Virginia is testing two methods: the breath-based system uses a sensor above the steering wheel to detect alcohol on the driver's breath. Meanwhile, the touch-based system, which uses infrared light to scan fingertips to read a person's blood alcohol content.
Griffin says he's confident the technology is ready for the streets.
“I think the next step is we need to get this ready to go into fleets, we need to put it in a large number of vehicles, test it and then get it ready to be commercialized,” said Griffin.
There's a report from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety that says this technology could save over 7,000 lives a year. From 2013 to 2017, during st. Patrick's day weekend, 234 lives were lost in drunk driving crashes.