San Diego Supervisors: Ignition Interlocks for All DUI Offenders Now!

We hear from victims, from state legislators, and occasionally from Governors. We hear from law enforcement too. Now, in San Diego, we’re hearing from county officials as well: California needs ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders.

Last Tuesday the San Diego Board of Supervisors, the county’s governing body, voted 4-0 to support Senate Bill 1046. The bill expands a four-county pilot program that requires anyone convicted of drunk driving to install an ignition interlock in his or her vehicle. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

The Pilot Program

Four California counties – Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare – are part of a pilot program begun in 2010 to test the effectiveness of ignition interlocks in reducing drunk driving recidivism. In those counties, anyone convicted of DUI is ordered to install an ignition interlock in any vehicle he or she operates.

How long the interlock device stays in depends on the number of offenses: it could be between 5 months and 4 years.

During the time of the pilot program, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) estimated that the devices prevented some 158,000 incidences of drunk driving. That might have been the reason that California voted last year to extend the pilot program until July of 2017.

SB 1046 – The Way Forward

Ignition Interlocks for all DUI offenders
Senator Jerry Hill Champions Ignition Interlocks for All DUI Offenders

Senator Jerry Hill, who spearheaded the extension of the four-county pilot program, also sponsored SB 1046, which would require ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders.

Some people wonder why first offenders should be required to use the interlock. Don’t they deserve more lenient treatment? In fact, there are good reasons why 25 states now mandate the devices for all offenses. For one thing, statistics show that by the time a person is arrested for DUI, it is likely he or she has already driven impaired around 80 times. For another, alcohol-related deaths tend to fall dramatically after all-offender interlock laws are introduced, since the device is the only measure that actually prevents an intoxicated person from starting the engine.

If you are a Californian, it’s time to act. Contact your Governor, Senators and Representatives and let them know that you support SB 1046 as a way to make the state’s roads safer.

If you live in another state that doesn’t require ignition interlocks for all offenders, read MADD’s report on ignition interlocks to find out why they are simply the best way to prevent repeat offenders from taking to the wheel while under the influence. And then contact your legislators to get the ball rolling in your state.

There are lives to be saved.