Legal Review: Why Your iPhone Might Lock You Out of Your Car in Future

Did you know that Apple is considering locking you out of your car? Do not worry. It is for a good reason.

Reports of a new patent by Patently Apple show that the multibillion-dollar tech mogul is looking to boost its car key feature a step further. Specifically, the company wants to introduce a breathalyzer feature inbuilt into your phone.

The Specifics

The feature is designed to work with the phone or any other accessory such as an Apple watch. The primary goal is to prevent drunk driving, and when high levels of alcohol are detected in the blood, it could lock you out of your car.

This patent is based on an earlier patent Apple filed back in 2021. This patent would allow the iPhone and Apple watch to use, “database information that would contain information pertaining to human breath characteristics such as typical ammonia levels, acceptable alcohol levels for driving, etc.”

However, since testing the breath might not be enough to detect whether the user is drunk, Apple also explored other avenues. Specifically, in some instances, the app could ask the user to complete a series of mental challenges to determine whether they are fit to drive.


Other companies have also been looking to take advantage of the iPhone’s high-level processing capabilities for analyzing alcohol levels. They include BACtrack and AlcoDigital NEO, which have been looking to introduce this feature using third-party accessories, similar to Apple’s new patent.

From the patent filed by Apple, the iPhone or an external accessory could be used for the breathalyzer feature. However, it is unknown how the company intends to utilize this feature for a smartphone.

Why This Feature Is a Big Deal

Regardless, this is a step in the right direction as it shows that companies are aware of the increasing cases of drunk driving, which claim a lot of lives. One person dies from drunk driving every 45 minutes in the US alone, which is an alarming trend.

In 2020, 11,654 people died in drunk driving-induced crashes in the United States, a 14 percent increase from 2019. All these cases were preventable had proper measures been put in place by the drivers themselves and the authorities.

This is not to say that the breathalyzer from Apple will help eradicate drunk driving cases in the United States. The users themselves will determine the efficacy of this technology. “If an officer pulls you over and determines that you are operating your vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs you should contact a lawyer to help handle the case,” says Dayne Phillips of South Carolina Criminal Law.

Why It Might Not Work

Some drivers may be reluctant to turn on this feature, knowing fully well it might lock them out of their car. Therefore, this feature might fail to work if most drivers decide to turn it off.

Furthermore, a patent only implies that a company is looking to explore and protect an idea. It does not necessarily mean that the company will actualize the said idea.

However, given the fact that the company has filed the two patents in relatively quick succession, the chances are high that the development of the breathalyzer feature is in the works already or being planned for future development.