Drunk drivers in California have been targeted by a new law which forces them to use breathalyzer devices to start their cars. Introduced at the beginning of 2019, the new law uses hi-tech ignition interlock devices (IID) to clamp down on drunk driving. It orders that all repeat DUI offenders must have their cars fitted with a device which prevents the car from starting if the driver is not sober. First-time offenders who are involved in drunken crashes which result in injury could also be forced to use the equipment.
The introduction of the California-wide ignition interlock device law has been planned for several years. It has been designed to slash the number of people who are getting behind the wheel while drunk – putting themselves and others in danger. Offenders may be forced to have a device in their car for between six months and several years, depending on their crimes.
How Do Ignition Interlock Devices Work?
An ignition interlock device is basically a breathalyzer which has been fitted to a vehicle. It requires a driver to blow into it for several seconds and can read whether there is any trace of alcohol on their breath.
If the driver registers as sober, the device will unlock the ignition and allow the vehicle to be started and driven. However, if the driver registers positive, the device will shut the car down and ensure that it cannot be driven for a short time. The lockout time gets longer if the driver continues to test positive.
The ignition interlock devices are wired into the vehicles at a cost to the DUI offender. The installation will cost up to $150, while the offender will also have to pay around $60 in monthly costs for device calibration, maintenance, and monitoring.
Can You Cheat an Ignition Interlock Device?
These devices are designed to prevent cheating and tampering. Any attempts to tamper with the device are recorded and may result in the vehicle being shut down for an extended period of time, or the driver being hit with a hard license suspension. Mouthwash and other attempts to mask alcohol on the breath will also register a positive result.
A driver cannot just get another person to blow into the device to get the car started either. Once the car is moving, the device will alert the driver at random intervals that another reading is needed (referred to as ‘rolling samples’). If the driver does not comply, the IID could alert authorities, or draw attention to the vehicle by honking the horn and flashing its lights continuously.
Clamping Down on DUI Car Crashes
The law mandating the use of ignition interlock devices has been introduced to cut down on drunk driving, which has become an extremely serious problem – both in California and across the U.S. In 2017, more than 1,100 people were killed in road crashes involving alcohol-impairment in California alone. In fact, DUI crashes are one of the leading causes of road accidents in California and accounted for more than 30% of all fatal crashes across the state.
It is hoped that the introduction of the IID will help drivers and make the roads safer. In theory, the new law gives drivers a second chance, while placing stricter restrictions on their ability to drive while drunk.
It remains to be seen whether enforced ignition interlock devices will have a significant impact on the number of DUI crashes on California roads. While the new law change is a step in the right direction, we know that it will not eliminate drunk driving crashes completely. Car crashes can be devastating, causing painful and even life-altering injuries. If you or a loved one have been involved in a crash involving alcohol-fueled negligence, you can contact one of the dedicated California DUI victims’ lawyers of Bisnar Chase for expert help.