New law may require those convicted of DUI to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles.

Senate Bill 1046, authored by Senator Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown late last month and will expand on an existing pilot program statewide which requires those convicted of drunk driving to install an ignition interlock device (IID) to their vehicle. The IID device, which acts as a breathalyzer attached to the vehicle’s ignition, will prevent cars from starting if the driver is not sober.

The IID program, which is now in place in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare counties, will expand and allow the pilot program to run for another two years. Then, starting January 1, 2019, offenders of drunk driving will be required to install and maintain an ignition interlock device. Those convicted of DUI offenses will face the following repercussions:

  • First-time DUI offenders who do not cause an injury have the option to choose a six month IID installation or a one-year restricted license and participation in a treatment program.
  • First-time DUI offenders whose crime results in an injury will be required to use the IID for six months.
  • Second-time offenders will be required to use the IID for one year.
  • Third-time offenders will be required to use the IID for two years.
  • Fourth-time offenders will be required to use the IID for three years.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has been an avid supporter of this legislation and commended Senator Jerry Hill, Governor Brown, and the California Legislature for taking a positive step towards addressing California’s drunk driving problem by making roadways safer. According to MADD, the pilot program has already stopped more than 125,000 drunk driving attempts by individuals with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher. The Governor’s Office has also released data in support of this bill, citing that more than 20,000 people are injured in drunk driving accidents each year.

While many are praising this legislation, anticipating that the reform will save lives, the bill is not without its critics. The California Public Defender’s Association, for example, strongly opposes the law claiming that it subjects low-income offenders to a financial burden. The IID costs approximately $60-$80 per month for monitoring and calibration and an additional $70-$150 for installation. The Senator’s office commented that steps will be taken to reduce the physical costs of IID installation and maintenance.

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When a person makes the choice to drink and drive, they are putting the lives of everyone on the road at risk. If you have been injured in a car accident due to a drunk driver, you need attorneys in your corner who have a proven track record of success. At Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn, we have recovered more than $350 million for our past clients including numerous multi-million dollar victories. The law affords victims only one chance to claim compensation and our San Francisco personal injury attorneys can help you to fight for every penny that you deserve.

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