There has been much in the news about the infrastructure bill that recently passed the Senate with bipartisan support. While it still must battle its way through the House before it can be signed into law, one provision is worth closely examining.
Tucked inside the 2,702-page bill is a requirement that new cars have built-in technologies able to detect whether the driver is intoxicated.
How would that even work?
While the details still are unclear, the premise is that the device would operate much like the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test that police officers use as one of three field sobriety tests for motorists stopped for suspicion of drunk driving.
However, when one considers the subjective nature of field sobriety tests and that all sorts of visual and neurological conditions can mimic the signs of impairment in sober persons who submit to the HGN test, this is a frightening prospect.
When Big Brother is your own vehicle
There are many worthwhile aspects of the proposed bill — automatic alerts to remind drivers of children still in the back seat, rear guards for semitrucks, collision avoidance systems and automatic braking in emergencies — but the technology to detect drunk drivers seems a bit of a legal overreach.
Could it survive court challenges?
Possibly not, but when it comes to DWI convictions, few want to leave the consequences to the nuances of the law. If you are facing charges of driving while intoxicated, you need to build a robust defense against those allegations.