Advocates for stricter drunk driving laws, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, have long encouraged requirements for the installation of ignition interlock devices for those convicted of DUIs. IIDs, of course, are devices that drivers must blow into before being able to start their vehicle. If the device detects alcohol above a pre-set amount on the driver's breath, the ignition doesn't work. It's basically a Breathalyzer for your car.
A study published last year by the California Department of Motor Vehicles found that IIDs are nearly 75 percent more effective in preventing subsequent DUIs for first-time offenders than driver's license suspensions. Now California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law mandating these devices for more people convicted of DUIs.
What Are the Requirements of the New Law?
Under the new law, which won't take effect until the beginning of 2019, if a person is convicted of a first-time DUI and there are no injuries involved, that person may choose to either have an IID for six months or a restricted driver's license for a year. A restricted license allows people to only drive to and from work and requires enrollment in a treatment program.
Pilot Programs Throughout the State Have Proven Effective
The new law is essentially an expansion of a program that has been piloted in four California counties since 2010. According to MADD, as of the end of last year, IIDs in these pilot counties stopped approximately 125,000 attempts by drivers with a blood-alcohol content at or over the legal limit of .08 percent from starting their vehicles.
According to the state senator who sponsored the bill, some 28 states already require that all people convicted of DUIs have IIDs installed on their vehicles. Drivers are required to pay to have the devices installed, which can cost as much as $150.00. They're also required to pay a monthly fee, which can be as high as $80.00. The California law offers reduced rates to those with low incomes.
For people who have the choice of a restricted license or IID, it might be worth considering opting for the device. While many people balk at the cost and embarrassment of having one, it can prevent further DUIs, not to mention protect you and others on the road from injury or worse. It's wise to discuss your options with your attorney.
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