The California State Assembly unanimously passed a bill to initiate a program to require an ignition interlock device in the car of anyone convicted of any DUI offense. The bill goes to the Governor’s desk for signature.
If signed by Governor Schwarzenegger, starting next July in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare counties, anyone convicted of a drunk driving/DUI (driving under the influence) offense will be required to get one of these interlock devices installed in his or her vehicle as a condition of driver’s license reinstatement. The program will likely expand and cover all California counties and criminal court jurisdictions when the pilot program ends in 2016.
The ignition interlock device is a small machine that functions as a mobile breathalyzer in your vehicle. The driver must blow into the device before the ignition will start. If the system detects a level of alcohol above the threshold (typically .02% BAC, or one drink for most people), the device locks out the ability to start the car, and logs a failure which can result in additional penalties.
Under existing California DUI laws, ignition interlock devices are part of a 1st offense DUI sentence at a judges discretion. Judges are allowed to determine whether the person appears to be a threat to public safely and is likely to drive while impaired again. If a person has a history of alcohol abuse, or was arrested with a high BAC level when tested, such as .15% or above, many judges are likely to add the interlock penalty to a guilty finding.
The discretion allows average citizens who may have made a one time mistake, and barely exceeded the legal limit the ability to avoid this significant inconvenience. For some people who drive for a living with vehicles they don’t own, an interlock requirement means they can’t work, since it may be impossible or impractical for a device to be installed in a company vehicle.
The required duration of the interlock installation would be 5 months in 1st offense cases with no injury or accident. The device costs around $100 to install, and $50-$75/month in maintenance fees, both of which the driver is responsible for.
For more information on a California DUI charge, contact our attorneys for a free consultation on your arrest. We’ll discuss defense options and how we can fight your case and work to preserve your driver’s license.