Rep. Kathleen Rice said Thursday she will introduce legislation to require that new cars be equipped with technology that detects if a driver is intoxicated and prevents the vehicle from moving if the motorist is above the legal limit.
Rice (D-Garden City) announced the bill, known as the “End Drunk Driving Act,” at a news conference at the Garden of Hope, an Eisenhower Park memorial for DWI victims, on New Year’s Eve, typically one of the deadliest drunken driving days of the year.
Manufacturers would have 10 years to install the devices.
“It’s going to keep drunk driver’s off the road,” said Rice, who plans to introduce the bill when Congress returns to session next week. “It will save lives.”
The technology uses infrared light and steering wheel sensors to measure blood alcohol content. If the driver’s blood alcohol content is above the legal limit, the car will not start.
In June, the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, a research program of the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, which represents auto manufacturers, unveiled prototypes of the new technology and are working to develop a final version for commercial use.
Rice could not provide a cost estimate for installing the technology. But her bill would provide $176 million in funding over the next decade for project development.
“This device will stop needless deaths from happening,” said Marge Lee, president of the Franklin Square-based group, Drive Educated Drive Informed Commit And Totally End Drunk Driving. “It will protect New York families and United States families.”
A study released in May by the University of Michigan found that installing interlock devices, another anti-DWI technology, in all cars could prevent 85 percent of all DWI deaths, saving 59,000 lives.
Representatives of the auto industry could not be reached for comment Thursday.