You just finished a long week of work and are off to the bar to spend time with friends. After a few drinks, you head out to your car. You may think you are sober enough to drive, but how do you know for sure? A cop could certainly pull you over and administer a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test, but that is often too late to avoid an arrest.

What if your car could tell you if it was safe to drive? New vehicles may soon carry a new technology called the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS). What does this device do?

How the system works

When you get into a car equipped with the DADSS, the system begins working automatically. Effectively a breathalyzer test, the DADSS uses passive sensors to sample the air in the car. The system then measures your BAC level and compares it to a legal threshold. If your BAC is over .08, the system will prevent the vehicle from starting.

The DADSS is very similar to an ignition interlock device (IID), which courts use to regulate those convicted of driving under the influence (DUI). An IID works to regulate those who have already committed a DUI; the DADSS aims to prevent drunk driving altogether.

The epidemic of drunk driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drunk driving accounts for approximately one-third of all traffic deaths. Drunk drivers kill over 10,000 people every year and cause $44 billion in property damage. The number of drunk driving deaths has declined over the past few decades, but that may be due to advancements in safety technology like DADSS. Federal lawmakers have introduced bipartisan legislation that could mandate these systems in all cars by 2024.

Charged with a DUI? A lawyer can help protect your rights

If you recently incurred a DUI charge, you may have options for your defense. A local lawyer familiar with Alabama’s DUI laws can answer your questions, assess your case and work with the judge on alternative sentencing and reduced charges.