US House passes new drunk driving provisions, introduced in honor of Abbas family

Passage part of House infrastructure bill

The U.S. House passed new provisions that would require drunk driving prevention technology to be installed as safety equipment in new cars.

The provisions, originally proposed by Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell as the “Honoring Abbas Family Legacy to Terminate (HALT) Drunk Driving Act,” was passed as part of a $715 billion transportation and infrastructure bill on Thursday. The bill passed largely along party lines by a vote of 221-201.

The changes were proposed following the tragic death of a Metro Detroit family -- Issam, Rima, Ali, Isabella, and Giselle Abbas -- who were killed by wrong-way drunk driver while on the way home from a family vacation in 2019.

Previous coverage: Inside the fight to change drunk driving laws in honor of the Abbas family

The HALT Act provisions passed today call for a technology-neutral rule-making that could involve a variety of drunk driving prevention systems, including:

  • Driving performance monitoring systems that monitor the vehicle movement with systems like lane departure warning and attention assist;
  • Driver monitoring systems that monitor the driver’s head and eyes, typically using a camera or other sensors;
  • Alcohol detection systems that use sensors to determine whether a driver is drunk and then prevent the vehicle from moving.

The House proposal also includes some elements designed to counter climate change. Transportation is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. The House bill seeks to make alternatives to driving more attractive by boosting funding for public transit and rail. It also dedicates $4 billion to electric vehicle charging stations to speed and ease an increased use of electric vehicles.

Its chances of passing the U.S. Senate are unclear, but House Republicans largely rejected the bill. You can find the full roll call here.

More: House approves $715 billion transportation, water bill


About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.