HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — When Rosalyn Babers sits down and talks about her daughter, 20-year-old LaQuenta Housley, her eyes fill with tears. Housley was killed after being hit by an alleged drunk driver in December 2021.
“It’s devastating. I’m being asked,” Babers said. “She didn’t have a chance at life. She was just starting life. She didn’t get to live her life.”
RELATED: NTSB wants new vehicles designed to detect, stop drunk drivers
In recent events, the National Transportation Safety Board decided to release a comprehensive recommendation that could curb drunk driving. They propose that all-new model cars must have integrated, built-in technology to detect alcohol impairment.
The NTSB cites a DWI crash in California in which nine people, including seven children, were killed as a catalyst for the recommendation.
However, the recommendation received a mixed reaction at best. It’s no secret that drunk driving claims lives across the country on a daily basis, but can technology be used to reduce the number of cases?
Critics of the proposal say the question is not whether drunk driving is bad; everyone agrees on that. It is whether having a device in your car, for everyone, constitutes legal conscription.
“I think it’s an invasion of your privacy. I think it’s unconstitutional,” said Tyler Flood, an attorney specializing in DWI defense.
“The Fourth Amendment protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures. This is basically a search of your breath when you get into your car.”
In addition to legal hurdles, Flood says the technology is not yet accurate enough to measure who is too impaired to drive accurately.
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“I see a real problem with this type of technology because it doesn’t protect against things like marijuana use or if you’re abusing prescription drugs. It only protects against alcohol,” Flood said.
Babers, for his part, is also skeptical, though for many different reasons. She says people will find ways to trick the system, even if breathalyzer technology becomes required.
“If they can come up with a good idea to stop the car starting when they’re drunk, then yes. I’m all for it,” said the grieving mother.
“But when you think about it. What they’re trying to do, they can still get away with it somehow.”
In a release, the NTSB described the repeat drunk driving incident in detail.
“Driving under the influence remains a leading cause of injury-involved highway crashes. Since 2000, more than 230,000 people have died in crashes involving drivers under the influence of alcohol, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2020, an estimated 11,654 people died in crashes involving alcohol. “
According to the agency, the data represented about 30% of traffic fatalities in 2020 and a 14% increase over the 10,196 people who died in alcohol-related crashes in 2019.
The NTSB does not have the power to make law, so it is unclear whether 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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