The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would require all new automobiles to install breathalyzers or other alcohol monitors.
The $1.2 trillion, 2,700-page omnibus — supported by a number of Republicans and Democrats in the Senate as a compromise on President Joe Biden’s $2.7 trillion American Jobs Plan — includes a provision for “Advanced Drunk and Impaired Driving Prevention Technology.”
The system required under the legislation could “passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired” and “prevent or limit motor vehicle operation if an impairment is detected.” Alternatively, it could “passively and accurately detect” whether the blood alcohol concentration of a driver exceeds the legal limit, then “prevent or limit motor vehicle operation if a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit is detected.”
To allow “sufficient time for manufacturer compliance,” the mandate would enter into effect within either two or three years.
As one Republican aide told The Washington Free Beacon, “it certainly looks like this opens the door for mandatory breathalyzers in every new car.”
The outlet also noted that several lobbying groups — including Mothers Against Drunk Driving — have been lobbying heavily for the installation of breathalyzers in new vehicles:
MADD paid lobbying firm ML Strategies $40,000 in 2021 to influence Congress on regulations concerning the automotive industry. Christian Fjeld, vice president of ML Strategies and MADD’s lobbyist on the issue, spent nearly a decade working with Democratic leadership on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, including former senator Bill Nelson (D., Fla.), who is now NASA chief for the Biden administration.
Intoxalock, a company that manufactures vehicle breathalyzers, has also spent heavily on lobbying in the past five years. It has spent more than $900,000 on lobbyists since 2017, according to the Center For Responsive Politics, including $40,000 to Crossroads Strategies in 2021. The firm boasts many employees who have worked in the federal government, the House of Representatives, and the Senate.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has come under heavy scrutiny for granting favors to special interest groups and particular agencies favored by Senate negotiators. For instance, the legislation grants $1 billion to the Appalachian Regional Commission — an “economic development partnership agency of the federal government and 13 state governments” led by Gayle Conelly Manchin, the wife of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).
The legislation is presently under debate in the Senate, with some lawmakers desiring a vote as soon as Thursday evening.
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