Effective Jan. 1, 2019, Senate Bill 1046, which California Governor Jerry Brown signed recently, will require repeat drunk driving offenders and first-time offenders who caused an injury to install ignition interlock devices that detect the presence of alcohol in the driver’s breath in their vehicles. These devices would prevent the driver from starting the vehicle if he or she is impaired.
According to a Bay City News report, the statewide pilot program will give first-time DUI offenders the choice to have these alcohol detection devices installed instead of having their driving privileges revoked or having a route-restricted license. This new law will essentially expand a pilot program currently in place since 2010 in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare counties, which required people convicted of DUI to install the device. This four-county program will remain in place through 2018 before moving to the modified statewide version in 2019.
DUI Victim Advocates Pleased
Advocates for DUI victims in California say they are pleased with Gov. Brown’s decision to sign this bill. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has issued a statement that this law is going to save lives. According to a study by the Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York, DUI deaths are 15 percent lower in states that require all convicted drunk drivers to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles when compared with states whose laws aren’t as stringent. So far, 28 states and Washington D.C. have similar laws in place.
Laws Proven to be Effective
About 1,000 people are killed and more than 20,000 are injured each year in California due to the actions of drunk drivers. The California Department of Motor Vehicles published a report in June, which found that among first-time, these devices are 74 percent more effective at preventing a repeat offense than a driver’s license suspension. For second-time offenders, it has proven to be 70 percent effective. An ignition interlock device costs between $60 and $80 a month to calibrate and monitor and about $150 to install. The new law even reduces these costs for low-income offenders.
As California DUI victim attorneys, we welcome this new law. We, too, believe that it will help save thousands of lives in the future. Drunk driving injuries and deaths are entirely preventable and drivers should take every possible to prevent these tragic incidents. DUI drivers, in addition to facing criminal charges and penalties, could also be held civilly liable for the injuries and damages they cause.