Running errands or driving to and from work is something we take for granted. For people charged with and convicted of drunk driving, they already face uncertain futures with steep fines and possible jail time. The loss of their driver’s license could impact their personal and professional lives.
A new California traffic safety law may provide a much-needed option. It requires drivers in certain counties convicted of DUI to install ignition interlock devices. The IID must remain installed on their vehicles for a specific period of time. Upon successful completion of the program, the driver will be eligible for a restricted driver license or reinstatement.
Providing Options Following A DUI Conviction
The ignition interlock device is effectively a car breathalyzer that prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver’s breath alcohol content exceeds the legal limit. To start the car, a driver must provide a breath sample that is below a pre-set limit before the vehicle becomes operational. Breath alcohol content above the limit will not allow the car to start.
The goal of the IID program is to prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel and causing serious or deadly accidents. It can also play a role in reducing repeat offenses. Currently, it is being implemented through a two-year pilot program in Los Angeles, Alameda, Tulare and Sacramento. Once it concludes in January of 2019 and all data is collected, IIDs will become a statewide requirement.
Ignition interlock will not be exclusive to multi-time offenders. First-time drunk drivers will also need the device to continue driving.
Ownership of an IID also requires service appointments with technicians. Tampering with the device will only create more problems as will driving a different vehicle without an IID.
As of 2015, nearly 330,000 interlock devices were in use nationwide, providing much-needed driving options for those convicted of DUI.