National Transportation Safety Board endorses that all new cars come equipped with breathalyzers

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ByMiya Shay via KTRK logo
Monday, September 26, 2022
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The NTSB released a statement saying that driving under the influence of alcohol remains a leading cause of injury-involved highway crashes.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Her eyes fill with tears whenever Rosalyn Babers sits down and speaks about her daughter, 20-year-old LaQuenta Housley. Housley was killed after being hit by an alleged drunk driver in December 2021.

"It's devastating. I stay prayed up," Babers said. "She didn't have a chance at life. She was just beginning life. She didn't get to live her life."

RELATED: NTSB wants new vehicles to be designed to detect, stop drunk drivers

In recent events, the National Transportation Safety Board decided to release a sweeping recommendation that could curb drunk driving. They propose that all-new model cars be required to have integrated, built-in technology to detect alcohol impairment.

The NTSB cites a DWI accident in California where nine people, seven children included, were killed as a catalyst for the recommendation.

The recommendation, however, received a mixed reaction, at best. It is no secret that drunk driving is taking lives across the country daily, but can technology be used to reduce the number of cases?

Critics of the proposition say the issue isn't whether drunk driving is bad; everyone agrees it is. It is whether having a device in your car, for everyone, passes legal muster.

"I think it's an invasion of your privacy. I think it's unconstitutional," Tyler Flood, an attorney specializing in DWI defense, said.

"The Fourth Amendment protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures. This is essentially a search of your breath whenever you get in your car."

Besides legal hurdles, Flood says the technology is not yet accurate enough to measure who is too impaired to drive precisely.

WATCH: 'Drunk driving has to stop': Family pleads for change after losing loved ones in golf cart crash

"I see a real problem with this type of technology because it doesn't protect from things like marijuana use or if you're abusing prescription medications. It only protects from alcohol," Flood said.

Babers, for her part, is also skeptical, though for many different reasons. She says people will find ways to trick the system, even if breath analysis technology becomes required.

"If they can come up with a great idea of stopping the car from even starting when they're drunk, then yes. I'm all for it," the grieving mother said.

"But, thinking about it. What they're trying to do, they can still get away with it somehow."

In a release, the NTSB described the recurrence of drunk driving in detail.

"Driving under the influence of alcohol remains a leading cause of injury-involved highway crashes. Since 2000, more than 230,000 people have lost their lives in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2020, an estimated 11,654 fatalities occurred in alcohol-impaired crashes."

According to the agency, data represented about 30% of traffic fatalities in 2020 and a 14% increase over the 10,196 individuals who died from alcohol-impaired crashes in 2019.

The NTSB does not have the power to make law, so it's unclear if this recommendation will ever become a reality.

Babers says the only certified way to save lives is not to drink and drive.


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