Buried within ‘infrastructure’ bill lies provision to install breathalyzers, eye scans in new cars, report

As the behemoth 2,702-page, $1.1 trillion infrastructure bill is being debated in Congress, Americans have had time to fish out buried provisions that are, notably, not infrastructure– the most recent example being in-car breathalyzers.

The provision is called “Advanced Drunk and Impaired Driving Prevention Technology Safety Standard” and it would require automobile manufacturers to install technology in new cars to monitor and prevent drivers from getting behind the wheel under the influence by utilizing breathalyzers, eye scans to track drivers’ focus or infrared touch tests.

Where some see a safety measure, others see Big Brother-reminiscent mandates and technology. The invasive tech doesn’t stop at preventing impaired driving either. It would also require rear guards for semi-trucks to protect passenger vehicles that may rear-end them, an in-car reminder to check the backseat for a child every time the engine stops, and a study on whether federal crash-test dummies are accurate indicators of crash impacts on women, children and the elderly, according to Time.

Some may argue that these provisions are well-intentioned, while others can’t be so sure as the government appears to be taking every opportunity to encroach on their lives. One thing that is certain, however, is that drunk driving, car check reminder technology, and crash test dummies are not infrastructure.

It’s not always clear how provisions like this end up in unrelated legislation, but all you have to do here is follow the money.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) paid ML Strategies, a lobbying firm, $40,000 in 2021 to influence Congress on regulations concerning the automotive industry according to The Free Beacon. Their lobbyist and VP of the firm, Christian Fjeld, has spent almost a decade working with Democratic leadership on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. That includes former senator Bill Nelson (D., Fla.), NASA chief for the Biden administration.

Additionally, Intoxalock, a vehicle breathalyzer company, has spent more than $900,000 on lobbyists since 2017 according to the Center For Responsive Politics. This includes $40,000 to Crossroads Strategies in 2021, a firm that boasts many government-connected officials.

The largest Republican voice for tech-based sobriety screenings is Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) who worked with Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) on legislation known as the RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone) Act last July, which would impose requirements for sobriety detecting technology as standard in all vehicles.

It remains unclear whether or not Scott will support this measure as is– stuffed inside the infrastructure bill– though many Republicans will view this as an overreach of the nanny state.

This technology is already being employed in some states for drivers with a record of driving under the influence. The wide-sweeping, new proposal will be met with certain criticism even if it does keep Americans safer on the road.

According to the CDC, the measure could eliminate as many as one-third of all drunk-driving-related deaths in the U.S. Another Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study suggested the tech could save as many as 9,000 lives and prevent one million arrests annually.

Even if the controversial measure were to remain stuffed in the infrastructure bill and that bill was green-lighted by Congress, it would require approval by President Biden before giving ultimate veto power to manufacturers and the Department of Transportation should the measure prove too difficult or costly to implement.

It is uncertain if the infrastructure bill itself, let alone funding for unrelated and extraneous projects like these will pass as the bill crawls through the approval process.

Americans, however, are not standing by idle while the government plans to add over a trillion dollars to the national debt in a pork-stuffed bill with minimal return on investment when it comes to infrastructure.



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