A Future Without Drunk Driving: What That Means for Insurance

The new infrastructure bill, signed by President Joe Biden in November of 2021, allocates billions of dollars to be used in safety measures for vehicles. New vehicles will be required to include built-in alcohol detection systems (ADS) that measure the driver’s blood-alcohol percentage in order to cut down on drunk driving. In the near future, auto insurance companies will begin to incentivize the inclusion of ADS in all vehicles by offering discounts as a way to save on coverage.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Apr 14, 2022

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Things to Remember

  • The infrastructure bill requires vehicles to use alcohol detection systems that measure a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC)
  • Alcohol detection systems are expected to significantly decrease the number of drunk driving incidents in the U.S.
  • The increased implementation of alcohol detection systems will likely impact auto insurance rates

More than 10,000 people die from drunk driving incidents every year in the United States. That number is expected to decrease thanks to a new infrastructure bill.

The infrastructure bill, signed by President Joe Biden in November of 2021, allocates billions of dollars to fight drunk driving with alcohol detection systems in new vehicles.

What are alcohol detection systems?

Alcohol detection systems (ADS) are essentially in-car breathalyzer interlock devices that are programmed to work within individual vehicles. Alcohol detection systems measure a person’s blood alcohol level each time they start the car.

If the driver has been drinking alcohol, the car’s ADS will recognize their blood alcohol content (BAC) is too high for them to drive legally.

The car will not start but will re-test the driver until they receive a clean breath reading. Once the driver no longer shows signs of having consumed alcohol, the car will start, and the driver will no longer have to wait.

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Will I need an alcohol detection system in my vehicle?

According to the infrastructure bill, only newly-produced cars will be required to include an alcohol detection system, and automakers will have a few years before everything is officially put into place.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will have to choose which universal system new vehicles will be required to use and will also need to set up the necessary safety standards.

Once the NHTSA has chosen the alcohol detection system that will be used, automakers will be granted three years to install these devices into new vehicles. Realistically, this means that new cars with built-in ADS equipment may not be available until 2026.

Will I need an ADS if I don’t have a new vehicle?

The infrastructure bill will not require cars produced before the NHTSA’s decision to have built-in alcohol detection systems.

However, some car insurance companies are already offering auto insurance discounts for people who have alcohol detection systems installed in their cars.

You may find that including an ADS in your car lowers your overall car insurance rates. But you’ll have to speak to your car insurance company to find out for sure.

Will alcohol detection systems impact auto insurance rates?

In the near future, more and more car insurance companies will incentivize including built-in alcohol detection systems in order to cut down on drunk driving.

This may allow people to lower their car insurance rates by installing an ADS in their cars since drunk driving rates are much higher than the average car insurance payment.

Car insurance companies will also likely keep track of ADS readings. While this information may not be reported to any specific organizations, it does have the potential to impact car insurance rates as well.

If you are driving a car with an alcohol detection system, and you register as having a blood alcohol percentage that’s too high, you may face elevated car insurance rates as a result.

You can opt to have an ADS added to your vehicle, but you should check with your insurance company beforehand to see if you can get a safety feature discount on your insurance rates.

Be sure to use our free quote tool below to compare car insurance rates today and see how much you could save.

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