Drunk driving crackdown bill in honor of Abbas family advances in US Congress

HALT Act introduced by Reps. Debbie Dingell, David McKinley and Kathleen Rice

The HALT Act was sparked by the tragic death of a Metro Detroit family of five.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A plan to crack down on drunk driving is advancing in U.S. Congress.

The HALT Act was sparked by the tragic death of a Metro Detroit family of five.

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

Issam, Rima, Ali, Isabella, and Giselle Abbas were killed by wrong-way drunk driver while on the way home to Northville from a family vacation in 2019.

Ever since the collision, Rima’s sister has been working to make sure it doesn’t happen to another family.

The Bill, introduced by Rep. Debbie Dingell, was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives with bipartisan support.

“I’m very pleased that we were able to get it through,” Dingell said. “I know Senator Lujan is very committed and I think this has a good chance of becoming law.”

The bill would mandate ways to detect drunk drivers in vehicles with pre-existing technology -- like monitoring erratic speed or lane changes, or using more advanced systems that can detect alcohol through infrared sensors.

For Rana Abbas-Taylor, who has become the face and voice for her family and the families of hundreds of others, she said the bill’s passage has brought her hard work into stark relief.

“It’s still really emotional,” Abbas-Taylor said. “It’s surreal but there’s just this feeling of peace that comes with it. They’ve left it as part of their legacy and it’s pretty cool.”

The bill has a sister bill in the Senate known as The Ride Act that just passed out of committee and also has bipartisan support. The hope is that this bill could reach President Joe Biden’s desk by Labor Day, but more likely by the end of 2021.

“Future victims will never know the work that went into lives saved,” Abbas-Taylor said.

She pointed to a new study that showed that drunk driving fatalities were up in 2020, killing more than 10,000 people. And that’s with fewer people on the road.

She’s urging people to be safe and smart during the Independence Day weekend.

More information on The HALT Act can be found here.