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Driving Under the Influence: Ignition Interlock Device

Earlier this year, California became one of 26 states to institute strict penalties for those convicted of driving under the influence. SB 1046, sponsored by State Senator Jerry Hill of San Mateo, is the law that requires a driving under the influence (DUI) offender to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on their vehicle for a specified period of time in order to get a restricted driver license or to reinstate their license.

An ignition interlock is a small breathalyzer machine, roughly the size of a cell phone, that is wired into a vehicle’s ignition system. A convicted drunk driver must blow into the machine and register a sober reading before the vehicle will start.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving state that the push was the result of a member’s son being killed by a drunk driver with many previous DUI arrests.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average offender has driven drunk more than 80 times before their first arrest.

Currently the most common way to deal with a drunk driver in California is license suspension. Suspension is not effective for most people, in particular the most dangerous drunk drivers. One study found that 75 percent of those with suspended licenses continued to drive. This law removes the required suspension time before a person can get a restricted license, provided that the offender installs an IID machine on their vehicle.

The law will take effect beginning January 1, 2019, and will not expire until 2026 unless terms are modified. Senator Hill also extended the pilot program requiring a five month IID installment for first time DUI offenders who reside in one of four California counties. Los Angeles is one of those counties which solidifies the need to consult a DUI Los Angeles attorney regardless of the mis-perceived leeway given to first time offenders.

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