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Apple patent reveals a breathalyzer test for the iPhone and Car Key

The feature could also make its way to the Apple Watch.

apple car key breathalyzer patent illustration
Image: USPTO / Patently Apple

A future version of the iPhone could be getting a breathalyzer function. That feature will limit access to the Apple Car Key functionality, effectively making it so you can’t drive your car if intoxicated.

That’s according to an Apple patent application, first noticed by Patently Apple. In the patent, it shows a series of intended screen actions, all referencing breathalyzers and unlocking the Apple Car Keys functionality.

Apple could build the breathalyzer into your iPhone or Apple Watch. Other options include a standalone accessory or even one built into your car.

That could tie into the now-mandatory rules in the European Union and the United Kingdom, which state all cars sold there require in-car breathalyzers. A positive test wouldn’t allow the car to start.

images from patent application for breathalyzer in apple car key
Image: Patently Apple

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The US is also moving towards a similar system. The new Infrastructure Bill would require carmakers to add built-in alcohol detection equipment. Those systems will be slightly different from the EU versions, as it wants to passively monitor the driver.

Passive monitoring could include testing when the Start/Stop button is pressed, using cameras to monitor the driver’s alertness, and even passive breathalyzers built into the steering wheel.

We should mention that this is currently a patent application. It hasn’t been granted yet, and there’s no indicator Apple will bring it to the Car Keys application. That said, Apple doesn’t patent things for the fun of it.

Legislators worldwide are also pushing for in-car breathalyzers to be standard equipment, so Apple could be trying to get ahead of things. After all, with so many iPhone owners out there, it’d be an easy way to gain positive press.

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