New Drunk Driving Law in California

Governor Brown recently signed a new Bill establishing a new drunk driving law in the state of California.  An ignition interlock device will be required for variable amounts of time for those with any number of DUI offenses. The new law will not go into effect until 2019, but news of this serves as a warning of future consequences for those who drive under the influence.


Ignition Interlock Requirement for DUI Offenders Signed Into Law by Gov. Jerry Brown

A bill requiring most convicted drunken drivers to install “ignition interlock” devices that would prevent them from driving while intoxicated was signed into state law Wednesday.

The bill will expand an existing four-county pilot program that requires the devices, which are essentially in-vehicle Breathalyzers. The statewide program will go into effect Jan. 1, 2019.California Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1046, the advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving announced.

Authored by state Sen. Jerry Hill of San Mateo, the bill will require or allow use of ignition interlock devices — aka an IIDs — in several circumstances:

  • for a first DUI offense involving an injury, an IID would be required for six months;
  • for first non-injury DUI offense, an offender may choose to have an IID for six months with full driving privileges, or a one-year restricted license that only allows driving to work, alongside a treatment program;
  • for a second DUI offense, an IID would be required for a year;
  • for a third DUI, an IID would be required for two years; and
  • for fourth and subsequent DUIs, IIDs would be required for three years.

The devices cost about $60 to $80 per month, with an installation fee of $70 to $150, according to Hill. The bill includes a program to help low-income offenders.

In a news release, Hill cited figures that state about 1,000 people die in California each year due to drunken drivers, and more than 20,000 are injured.

MADD was a major backer of the bill.

“No parent should have to lose their child to the criminal negligence of a drunk driver — especially when technology exists to prevent such a tragedy,” said MADD board member Mary Klotzbach, whose son Matt was killed by a drunken driver in 2001, in a statement.

Since the pilot program began in 2010 through late last year, the devices have stopped about 125,000 attempts to drive by offenders with a blood-alcohol content of .08 percent or higher, according to MADD data.The pilot program covered Los Angeles, Alameda, Sacramento and Tulare counties.

And a DMV report last year found that IIDs are 74 percent more effective than licenses suspensions in preventing repeat DUIs for first-time offenders.

Twenty-eight states require the devices for all drunken driving offenders, according to Hill.

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