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Maryland is latest testing ground for tech aimed at drunken driving

Maryland officials are testing new technology installed in vehicles that prevents the car from moving if the driver’s had too much to drink.

The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety analyzes the driver’s breath — there’s no need for a separate device — and if the sensors in the vehicle pick up a given level of alcohol, the engine will turn over, but the car won’t move. By allowing the car to start, the driver can then charge their phone and call a cab or a ride-hailing service.

The sensors can be set to “zero tolerance” in the case of teen drivers, or can be set to 0.08, the legal limit.

The technology was on display at the Maryland Association of Counties conference in Ocean City on Thursday.

Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration will install the technology in eight of its vehicles, including one that will be used in safety demonstrations around the state.

The MVA will be testing how well the technology works over the course of a year. “This pilot program will provide critical insight for manufacturers to integrate this technology as an option on future vehicles to keep us all safer,” said MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer.

Last year, Virginia tested the sensors in a commercial fleet in Richmond.

The program involves The Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, which represents automakers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Maryland Department of Transportation.

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