The Senate has approved an appropriation of $5 million for research into alcohol-detection devices called interlocks, which prevent drivers under the influence (DUI) of alcohol from driving.
The appropriation must now be approved by the House, The New York Times notes. If approved, the research would examine which of two interlock technologies are most effective. One system reads chemicals on the driver’s skin, while the other analyzes the driver’s breath.
A program financed by government and the auto industry, known as the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS), is exploring the feasibility and challenges associated with more widespread use of interlock devices.
The DADSS website notes that currently, drivers using interlock devices must provide a breath sample every time they start their car. If interlocks are to be used on a more widespread basis, they argue, a device needs to be developed that is less intrusive, and will not stop a sober driver from starting their vehicle. “They would need to be capable of rapidly and accurately determining and measuring alcohol in the blood. They would also need to be small, reliable, durable, repeatable, maintenance free, and relatively inexpensive,” the website notes.
Some states require people convicted of DUI to have alcohol-detection devices installed in their cars.
A study published earlier this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found interlock devices significantly reduce the likelihood that people convicted of driving while drunk will reoffend.