Press Release

Restaurant Group Denounces House Bill that Aims to Put Alcohol Detectors in All Cars

WASHINGTON – Today the American Beverage Institute (ABI), a restaurant trade association representing over 8,000 American restaurants, criticized Representative Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) for introducing the ROADS SAFE Act, which would provide $60 million for the development of alcohol detection devices to be installed as standard equipment on all cars in the near future.Rep. Capito’s bill is a companion to identical legislation introduced in March by Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Bob Corker (R-TN).

“Instead of spending $60 million of taxpayer money on research into technology that will hike the price of the average automobile, car companies could dramatically reduce traffic fatalities by refusing to make cars that go over 150 miles per hour,” said ABI Managing Director Sarah Longwell. “Speeding is the number one cause of fatalities on the highway.”

Longwell continued, “Even if 99.99966% of these alcohol detection devices were default free, it would still mean over 4,000 misreadings per day. Limiting car speeds would increase safety without stranding thousands of innocent people who could find their car locked down by a faulty interlock.”

A Department of Transportation fact sheetabout the technology dated as recently as January admits: “The goal over time is to equip all passenger vehicles in the United States with the technology.” Mothers Against Drunk Driving has made similar admissions; immediate-past CEO Chuck Hurley said MADD has “a long-term goal to make alcohol interlocks a standard safety feature that is installed in all new vehicles.” Even the head of the research program that this bill would fund is open about this objective: “Ultimately we would like them on all vehicles.”

Proponents claim that the devices would only prevent drivers from driving with a blood alcohol concentration above the current legal limit of .08. However, due to legal, liability, and logistical concerns, they would have to be set below the legal limit – most likely around 0.03-0.04.

Susan Ferguson, the head of the government program that the ROADS SAFE Act would fund, admitted this in a July 2009 Milwaukee Journal Sentineleditorial column, “Ferguson concedes this: Her devices will be set with a safety margin.”

“Putting alcohol detectors in all cars would effectively eliminate Americans’ ability to have a glass of wine with dinner, a beer at a ball game, or a champagne toast at a wedding and drive home, because the devices will be set well below the legal limit,” said Longwell. “We all want to increase traffic safety, but to do this we should focus on policies that target drunk drivers, not all Americans.”

The American Beverage Institute strongly urges both chambers of Congress to reject the campaign to put alcohol detectors in all cars.


For more information or to speak with ABI managing director Sarah Longwell, please contact Anastasia Feaster at 202-463-7110.