New tech aims to reduce impaired driving, DUI’s up in Harrisonburg

Harrisonburg Police are ramping up efforts to lower drunk driving in the city.
Published: Nov. 21, 2021 at 8:21 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - A section of the infrastructure bill, signed by President Biden last week, will require car companies to install technology that recognizes when a driver is impaired in all new vehicles in the future.

The technology will be able to detect if a driver is intoxicated and then pull them over and park.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently researching over 200 existing technologies to find a combination that will make this possible.

NHTSA hopes to have the technology available in all new vehicles within 10 to 15 years. Once it’s readily available it could save thousands of lives.

In Harrisonburg, DUIs have been up from last year, and police are ramping up efforts to stop drunk driving.

“Last year, for the total we had 97 DUIs for the entire year. At this point this year, not counting November just at the end of October of this year, we had 114, so our officers are being very proactive. They are out looking for DUIs to make sure people aren’t drinking and driving,” said LT. Charles Grubbs of the Harrisonburg Police Department.

HPD receives grants from the DMV each year, and this year, they’ve put some of the money toward cracking down on drunk driving.

“We’ve put an emphasis on it this year. Officers are getting a lot more training on DUIs. We have some officers that are really proactive in searching for those DUIs,” said LT. Grubbs.

Grubbs said in addition to putting themselves and others in danger, anyone who makes the decision to drive drunk will face steep consequences.

“A DUI is a class one misdemeanor on the first offense. Under state code, that’s punishable by a year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. You could have both and a license suspension,” he said.

According to the DMV, there have been 40 alcohol-involved crashes in Harrisonburg this year with two fatalities.

Across the Valley, there have been 55 alcohol-involved crashes in Augusta County, 14 in Page County, 59 in Rockingham County, and 22 in Shenandoah County.

There have been 13 total fatalities in alcohol-related vehicle crashes in the valley this year.

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