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Bill Could Make Ignition Interlock Devices Mandatory after First DUI in California

Man in car blows into breathalyzer

A new law would make the installation of ignition interlock devices mandatory for all those convicted of driving under the influence in California. The proposed law, described in Senate Bill 1046, was recently passed by both houses of the California Legislature, and now awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s action, either by vetoing the bill or signing it into law.

First-time offenders’ punishment similar to that of second, third, and fourth-time offenders

Ignition interlock devices are, in essence, portable breathalyzers attached to the ignition of a car. The driver must blow into the device before the ignition of the car will function, as well as at various points throughout the car ride. If the driver registers a BAC of .08% or above at any time, the car’s engine will shut off. Currently, judges throughout California may order that an individual convicted of a DUI have an ignition interlock device installed, but the installation of these devices is not mandatory in the majority of the state. If Gov. Brown signs SB 1046 into law, those convicted of driving under the influence for the first time will be required to use an ignition interlock device for six months. Second-time offenders will be required to use the devices for a year, third-time offenders for two years, and for the fourth or subsequent DUI convictions, the devices will be mandatory for three years. In this way, punishment for repeat offenders is made to feel highly similar to the punishment for those who made a mistake for the first time. This law would make California one of 25 states mandating installation of ignition interlock devices for all DUI offenders.

Responses to the devices are mixed

Organizations such as MADD and the National Transportation Safety Board are proponents of the proposed law, but support is not unanimous. Pilot programs that mandate the installation of ignition interlock devices already exist in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Alameda, and Tulare Counties, so the penalties for a DUI in these counties would not be changed by the new law. Due to the existence of these pilot programs, the California DMV has had the opportunity to observe the impact of requiring all DUI offenders to install Ignition Interlock Devices. According to a June 2016 study conducted by the DMV, the recidivism rate for drivers with ignition interlock devices is lower, but the lower recidivism rates decreased over time. Additionally, the DMV study raised safety concerns about the devices. According to their research, individuals with an ignition interlock device-restricted license had a higher fatality rate than did those convicted of a DUI who had a suspended or revoked license. According to some experts, this is attributable to the fact that drivers must blow into the device at random times while they’re driving. As a result, the DMV has not offered its support for the law, and has instead called on the creation of a state-wide task force to examine the effects of the potential law before putting it on the books.

If you’re in need of dedicated and aggressive representation in a DUI/DWI or other criminal matter in Southern California, contact the Ventura criminal defense and DUI lawyer Paul Tyler for a consultation, at 805-889-9000.

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