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Bay Area Lawmaker Pushes for Wider Use of Ignition Interlock Devices

Lawmakers are well aware that drunk and drugged driving causes thousands of preventable injuries and deaths each year, and they often do whatever they can to lower those numbers. In the past 20 years, California lawmakers have worked tirelessly to shape many new DUI laws and impose increasingly tough penalties that have helped fight drunk driving. Still, lawmakers aggressively look for new ways to make roadways safer - including one Bay Area lawmaker who wants to have more California DUI offenders install in-car breathalyzers.

State Senator Jerry Hill of the 13 th District today introduced legislation that would require any motorist convicted of driving under the influence to have a breathalyzer device - also called an ignition interlock device - installed in their vehicle. Breathalyzers are small devices which are connected to a vehicle's ignition. If the device registers alcohol on a drivers breath, they won't be able to start their vehicle.

According to Hill's proposed bill, first time DUI offenders would be required to install a breathalyzer in their vehicle for 6 months. For a second offense, that period extends into a full year. Not only are the breathalyzers time-consuming devices that can prevent motorists from starting their vehicles, they can also be costly, as they come with installation and deactivation fees, and must be routinely calibrated. Under the legislation, offenders would be required to pay for the device unless they can prove financial hardship.

Hill's proposed bill falls in line with a number of pilot programs in various California counties and in other U.S. states. According to data, mandatory installation of in-car breathalyzers has helped reduce alcohol-related accidents, injuries, and deaths.