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New cars may soon have alcohol detection systems

Many automakers are working hard on alcohol detection systems for their vehicles. Some are using in-car cameras while others have turned to touch sensors. One system, called the ignition interlock device, has already been proven to help keep those who are intoxicated from driving. Ohio residents should know that some lawmakers now want to make alcohol detection a permanent feature on all new cars.

A bill was introduced in Congress titled the Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act of 2019, or the RIDE Act of 2019. If passed, it would fund the development and testing of an alcohol detection system and mandate all automakers to install it in their vehicles by 2024. The details of the implementation process are vague; for instance, it is unclear if development teams will base their work on existing tech.

Lawmakers are clearly inspired, though, by the success of ignition interlock devices. These are nothing more than breath tests connected to a car's ignition system. They require drivers to pass the breath test before starting the car, and they ask for "rolling samples" of alcohol-free breath while the car is in motion. Since 2006, they have prevented more than 3 million attempts to start a car while drunk. Still, there are flaws to correct as IIDs can sometimes produce false positives.

A drunk driver is a negligent driver, and drunk driving crashes can result in not only criminal charges but also personal injury claims. In Ohio, victims can file a claim as long as the defendant is more than 50% to blame for the crash. Victims may have contributed to their own injuries, such as by failing to wear a seat belt. Whatever the case, it may be a good idea to consult with a lawyer and hire him or her, especially for the negotiation stage.

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