Recently on our DUI forum a user asked, “I was recently arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in California. I understand that they have changed their DUI laws with regards to the ignition interlock device. I am wondering how the changes to the law will affect my DUI penalties.”
Ignition Interlock overview
An ignition interlock device is a device (similar to a breathalyzer) which is installed on a vehicle. The device is pre-programmed, allowing a driver to only start and drive the car if their breath alcohol concentration does not exceed a certain level.
To use the ignition interlock device a driver breathes into the device. If the breath sample is good the car will start. If not, the driver must wait. Multiple attempts to start the car may be allowed but with increasing intervals between failures.
Although state procedures vary, some states will require drivers to continue to provide breathing samples periodically as they drive their vehicle. If the driver fails the test while driving, the vehicle will signal a stop and the driver must pull over.
The need for multiple tests is two-pronged. Not only does it reduce the chance that the driver will get another individual to provide the initial sample to start the car, it also eliminates the driver’s inclination to drink while they are driving.
States require the information collected from the ignition interlock devices to be sent to the proper authorities. In some cases, the data is sent immediately. In other cases, it is collected at a later date.
What is Senate Bill 1046?
Now back to your question. The bill you refer to is Senate Bill 1046. As of January 1, 2017, California drivers convicted of DUI will have the option to obtain a restricted California driver’s license and have their license reissued if they install an ignition interlock device on their car for a specified period of time.
This bill is an extension of a previous pilot program in four of California counties including Los Angeles, Sacramento, Tulare, and Alameda counties.
Not all drivers will qualify to install an ignition interlock device and have their license reinstated. Drivers are only eligible if they meet specific requirements:
- They meet the pre-determined blood alcohol concentration limits
- They agree to maintain the functioning, certified ignition interlock device
- They provide proof of financial responsibility
- They pay all reissue fees and any restriction fee required by the department
Benefits of an ignition interlock device
Proponents of the ignition interlock device argue there are several benefits for the devices. First, studies indicate that “motorists convicted for the first time of alcohol-impaired driving are less likely to reoffend if they have to install ignition interlocks on their vehicles.”
Others argue that the devices are an excellent alternative to revoking a driver’s driving privileges. Not only can the devices reduce DUI, they also allow drivers to go to school and work.
Opinions vary about ignition interlock devices, but after your DUI arrest you may not have the option to drive if you are not willing to install one.
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