BMW’s “How To” series on YouTube continues with a new episode highlighting one of the more unusual items available as an official accessory. It’s called the “alcohol interlock device,” or in layman’s terms, a breathalyzer. Although it is shown here inside an i7 xDrive60, the item can be had on other vehicles manufactured since July 2022.
It goes without saying BMW didn’t go through the trouble of developing the device on its own. Instead, the accessory comes from Dräger, a German company specializing in medical equipment. It must be installed at a dealer, and from that moment on, you won’t be able to drive off without taking a breath test first. If alcohol is detected, the electronic immobilizer remains active for the next two minutes, meaning you can’t start the car and will have no other way but to repeat the test.
Once the test is completed and everything is ok, the car needs to be started within minutes before having to redo the test. There’s also a “free start period” after turning off the vehicle for a maximum of 30 minutes. Within this interval, the driver won’t have to repeat the breath test.
While in-car breathalyzers are only used in specific scenarios, the situation could’ve been a lot different. A few years ago, there was an initiative from the European Union to make them mandatory in new cars. The proposal mentioned a standardized connector and easy-to-follow instructions about how to install them. President Biden’s 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act also mentions this device becoming mandatory as early as 2026.
Although having to take this extra step is certainly an inconvenience, let’s be open-minded and appreciate its potential to save lives. Drunk driving is still a major cause of road deaths all over the world, and having such a device built into the car will help prevent accidents caused by intoxicated drivers.