Senator Schumer Pushes DUI Legislation
By: Mary Ann Pekara
Law would fund next generation of ignition interlock legislation
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer is pushing legislation that would promote the development of in-car technology to keep some drivers from driving while intoxicated, according to silive.com.
The bill is meant to encourage research and development of a new product, and it will attempt to create and encourage partnerships between anti-drunk driving groups and car manufacturers.
According to an announcement on Schumer’s website, he is joined by Executive Director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Long Island Tom McCoy in driving the legislation forward. The announcement includes the federal government as a partner in finding ways to curb what Schumer calls “the scourge of drunk driving.”
According to Schumer, only 2 percent of drunk drivers are caught each year, and thousands die on the roads as a result of those who drive drunk.
Other Senators sponsoring the legislation include Tom Udall out of New Mexico and Bob Corker of Tennessee. Also joining these supporters of the legislation is Lenny Rosado, who daughter, Leandra Rosado, was killed in an accident caused by a drunk driver.
“Drunk drivers kill hundreds of New Yorkers each year, and far too few are caught and far too many are repeat offenders,” said Schumer. “It’s time to take a more common sense approach to this problem, and stop drunk driving before it even starts, so that our teenagers are not given the opportunity to make the decision, and our families aren’t put at risk by irresponsible drivers.”
The legislation, called the ROADS SAFE Act, which stands for The Research of Alcohol Detection Systems for Stopping Alcohol-related Fatalities Everywhere Act.
According to MADD National President Laura Dean-Mooney, the legislation will lead to the elimination of drunk driving by making sure that drivers who register a blood-alcohol content of .08 or higher can’t drive drunk. The technology that makes this a possibility would prevent DUI crashes, and reduce injuries and death.
The ROADS SAFE Act would authorize $12 million in federal funding each year for five years. These fund would go to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and its Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) program, which develops in-vehicle technology to prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel.
Today, many states requires the use of ignition interlock systems on the
cars of anyone convicted of DUI. Schumer's bill hopes to find the next
generation of such technology.
The funding would encourage emerging technologies in the field of DUI-prevention.
The new approach encouraged by Schumer and others would focus on creating a consortium of non-profits, the government and car companies. Such collaboration would hope to encourage innovation. Some concepts under review are those that could determine blood-alcohol content by touching the steering wheel or an engine start button. Also in the realm of possibility would be technology that could passively monitor a driver’s eye movements or breath.
Such technology would not be required in any car, Schumer’s announcement clarified. Instead, the new technology would give more tools to law enforcement officials and to parents. A judge, for example, could require a repeat offender to drive a car equipped with a blood-alcohol content sensor.
Schumer also noted that now was a good time to raise awareness of the dangers of drunk driving, with the arrival of prom season, when traditionally many teens die in alcohol-related accidents.