Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (D-NY), is proposing legislation that would require all new cars to be equipped with a breathalyzer regardless of past driving history.

The ignition interlock technology would prevent a vehicle from starting should it detect a blood alcohol content over the legal limit.

Rice issued a press release which reads in part:

U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice today announced that she will introduce legislation requiring American automakers to equip all new cars with ignition interlock technology that detects a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) and prevents the engine from starting if the driver’s BAC is above the legal limit. While laws vary across the states, ignition interlock devices are widely required for individuals who are convicted of drunk driving offenses.

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan found that requiring interlock technology in all new vehicles would, over a 15 year implementation period, prevent an estimated 85 percent of drunk driving-related deaths and 84-89 percent of drunk driving-related nonfatal injuries.

The American Beverage Institute (ABI) responded to that study, saying the conclusion that mandatory alcohol detection technology should be mandatory is “based on a series of assumptions that are far from reality.”

They argue that should the technology achieve a success rate of 99.999966%, something anybody with cell phone technology recognizes as an unrealistic goal, there would still be thousands of motorists left stranded daily due to an error.

Other technologies meant to detect BAC levels in drivers would differ from standard breathalyzers, but are still several years from being available on automobiles.  One such device would use sensors to analyze normal breathing in a driver, though it is unclear how it would successfully differentiate between the driver and others in the vehicle.

Not to mention, the technology seems like an invasive infringement on the liberties of millions of American drivers who don’t drink and drive, or who don’t drink period.  You’re looking to force a test to drive one’s own car on everybody in the hopes of catching a much smaller fraction, rather than focusing on that fraction.

The ABI perhaps explains it best – “We should be utilizing technology to target the hardcore drunk drivers—high BAC and multiple offenders—who cause the vast majority of alcohol-related fatalities, not treating all Americans like criminals every time they start their cars.”