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Anti-drunk driving technology could be in all new cars by 2026

Impaired driving prevention technology could prevent more than 9,400 alcohol-related traffic deaths per year, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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Anti-drunk driving technology could be in all new cars starting in 2026.

The mandate is part of President Joe Biden's bipartisan infrastructure law, which he signed in November.

The national president of MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said, "Passage of this legislation is the most significant, lifesaving public policy victory in MADD's 41-year history. It marks the beginning of the end of drunk driving."

But how would it work?

Sister station WISN talked with a software engineer at the Milwaukee School of Engineering.

Dr. Walter Schilling said the technology itself isn't new but instead how it would be used.

"One of the initial ideas is some sort of a sensor that would either be embedded in the start button or on the steering wheel. And what it would do is shine infrared light into your finger and basically look for the telltale signs of alcohol in the blood," Schilling said. "Other systems that have been talked about would potentially look at breath and measuring alcohol content basically in the air. And other systems that are down the road would look at basically camera photos of the drivers are driving to see what is where they have signs of being impaired."

The changes are still down the road.

According to the infrastructure law, the goal is to have the technology in new cars in 2026.

WISN reached out to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, which sent a statement from the Bureau of Transportation.

"The federal government has not yet shared full details of all the measures in the infrastructure bill, so states are still waiting to learn more about how they will be impacted, including any potential funding changes to impaired driving programs or new requirements," it said.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, impaired driving prevention technology could prevent more than 9,400 alcohol-related traffic deaths per year.