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Will Ignition Interlock Devices Be Installed For All DUI Offenders?

An ignition interlock device (IID) is installed on a vehicle when an individual has been convicted of DUI. It works to prevent a driver from using their vehicle after consuming alcohol. Like a breathalyzer, a driver will blow into the device to determine their BAC. If the BAC reading is higher than the pre-programmed level of the device, the vehicle will not start.

In order to prevent drivers from having a sober friend blow into the device to start the car, the device will require random retests, or rolling tests, after the initial start. If the driver exceeds the allowed BAC, the instance will be recorded and sent to law enforcement.

New Bills Advocates Mandatory IID Installation

Under California law, first-time DUI offenders are not required to install one of these devices. However, if a bill proposed by Senator Jerry Hill is passed, that may soon change. In conjunction with anti-drunk driving group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Hill has suggested that first-time DUI offenders should be required to install an ignition interlock device in an attempt to prevent repeat occurrences.

The bill would require:

  • Five year pilot program involving six months' installation for the first offense
  • Escalating time periods for the device with subsequent arrests
  • Driver's maintaining the use of their license following an arrest

Under current conditions, California drivers can choose between driving on a restricted license or having an ignition interlock device installed in their car. Around only 20% of drivers choose to install the device. In part, this has to do with the high costs associated with placing the device in the car and maintaining it on a monthly basis.

Some jurisdictions across the country where lawmakers have experimented with mandatory IID installation for a first DUI offense have reported a decline in DUI rates. These results have motivated more lawmakers to propose similar legislation.