The Ignition Interlock Wave Sweeps California: Devices Proposed for All DUI Offenders

A California state senator has proposed a law that will drastically affect road safety in that state.

Senator Jerry Hill Champions Ignition Interlocks
Senator Jerry Hill Champions Ignition Interlocks

Senator Jerry Hill is introducing a bill requiring first-time DUI offenders to install ignition interlocks into their vehicles. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

First-time offenders would have the device installed for six months, second-time offenders for one year, and third-time offenders for two years. Four or more DUI offenses would mean having the interlock installed for three years.

Currently four California counties have all-offender interlock requirements under a pilot program. The proposed law will make those requirements apply to everyone in the state.

Why interlocks for every DUI offender? Because studies have shown that all-offender ignition interlock laws dramatically reduce alcohol-related fatalities. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has long been pressing for all-offender ignition interlock legislation; they have already called for Senator Hill’s bill LifeSafer-Ignition-Interlock-FC100to be passed. Many law enforcement agencies also support the use of ignition interlocks, which ease their burden as well by keeping impaired drivers from taking to the road.

If California passes the law, it will become the 25th state to require interlocks for all DUI offenses. The first was New Mexico, which has seen a 40 percent drop in drunk driving deaths since their law’s passed in 2005. Other states have seen drops of between twenty and forty-five percent. Clearly, the tide is turning in favor of strong interlock legislation. We hope that more states get swept up before long.