Advanced Impaired Driving Technology Could Begin Stopping Drunk Drivers in Two Years

On November 15, 2021, President Biden signed into law the bipartisan Investment Infrastructure and Jobs Act (IIJA). This new law contains a provision requiring that all passenger vehicles eventually be equipped with technology that will stop drunk drivers. New cars may start utilizing such technology immediately, but the law won’t require this advanced impaired driving technology any sooner than 2 years from now, though it’s likely to take far longer.

What is the Timeline for Requiring Advanced Impairment Detection Technology?

As previously indicated in our previous article entitled Infrastructure Bill to Combat Drunk Driving by Requiring Alcohol Monitoring Technology the new law does not, with any degree of specificity, indicate what technologies are to be utilized for this purpose.  Instead, the law sets forth a timeline for the Secretary of Transportation to write the specific motor vehicle safety standard. Section 24220(c) indicates that not later than 3 years after the date of enactment of the IIJA, the Secretary of Transportation (SOT) shall issue a “final rule” requiring that a motor vehicle safety standard be added to the relevant section of the federal code.

This final rule must require all new passenger motor vehicles manufactured after the effective date of that rule to be equipped with either of the technologies previously referenced. It would appear from Section 10003 that the 3 years before which such rule must be added began to run on October 1, 2021. This means the SOT is likely to add the rule to the federal code toward the end of 2024.

The IIJA also provides that the manufacturers have between 2 and three years after the date the SOT issues his rule to comply with the requirements set forth in the SOT’s rule. See Section 24220(d). Thus, manufacturers have until about 2026 to begin incorporating the technology required by the rule.

What Happens if SOT Misses the 3-year Deadline?

However, according to section 24220(e), if the SOT determines that he cannot comply with the 3-year deadline for promulgation of the rule, then he may extend the deadline to any date, according to their sole discretion, so long as the new deadline is not more than 3 addition years, meaning that the SOT has a total of 6 years to write the standard, after which manufacturers will have an additional 2 years to comply.

Additionally, if the SOT has not developed the required “safety standard,” then they must report to congress their reason for not doing so, the status of any such technologies that have been incorporated and propose a new timeline for the creation of such standard. See section 24220(e)(2), After 10 years, if such standard has still not been promulgated by the SOT, then they must report to congress the reasons for the failure, including any barriers faced, and make recommendations for how the standard can be met.  See section 24220(e)(3).

What’s the Soonest Advanced Impairment Detection Technology Will be Added to Passenger Vehicles?

While it is hypothetically possible that the Secretary of Transportation could issue the final rule next year, the likelihood is that it will take at least two to three years before he is ready to do so. It is also hypothetically possible that car manufacturers would immediately begin incorporating the technology.

What is the Latest Advanced Impairment Technology Will be Added to All Passenger Vehicles?

The likely reality though, is that the Secretary of Transportation will request the additional 3 years provided by the Act, and that manufacturers will take at least 2 years to start incorporating the technology into the vehicle’s design. Thus, it seems entirely plausible that this technology won’t start showing up for a minimum of eight to ten years, or sometime between 2029 and 2031.

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