New Jersey motorists may not be aware that drunk driving kills roughly 10,000 people each year in the United States. A recent event in the nation’s capital that was attended by automakers and representatives from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed new vehicle technology designed to prevent drunk driving. An alcohol detection system that was described as the first of its kind may help prevent drunk driving accidents across the country.

The new system detects blood alcohol concentration in less than one second. If the driver is determined to be over the legal limit, the vehicle will not move. Researchers are investigating two different versions. A breath-based system measures alcohol levels in the driver’s normal breaths, while the touch-based system works with infrared light and the driver’s fingertip. The NHTSA has expressed its desire to have these systems available as safety options for new vehicles.

An NHTSA official believes that the new technology offers the potential to prevent drunk driving among teenagers, commercial fleets and other groups of drivers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that the technology could save roughly 7,000 lives each year. The U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary stated that DADSS technology would be an important supplement to current education, awareness and enforcement methods.

While less familiar than traditional methods of blood alcohol content measurement, these systems may help drivers protect their rights. By having an accurate measurement of blood alcohol content before getting behind the wheel, drivers can make informed decisions about when to drive. DADSS technology is also less invasive than current blood test methods. The use of blood tests are often successfully challenged by attorneys for those who have been charged with DUI on the basis that they were improperly administered.