Starting on July 1st, 4 California counties begin a tough pilot program that requires an ignition interlock device for any driver convicted of a single DUI.The Fresno Bee reports that the counties are Tulare, Sacramento, Los Angeles and Alameda, which will join Arizona, Illinois, and a number of other states in enforcing the toughest restrictions on convicted drunk drivers.
Ingition interlock devices prevent a car’s ignition from starting unless a clean breath sample is provided. It is often called a “rolling breathalyzer”. Typically the threshold is set to a very low number, such as .02% BAC, which can be triggered by consuming one drink or less. The legal limit for intoxication is .08% BAC (Blood alcohol content).
The offenders will be required to keep and maintain these systems in their cars for at least 5 months. The cost for the operation and maintenance of the ignition interlock includes and installation fee, and monthly monitoring fees.
Controversies over the program include complaints from restaurant and beverage associations that it unfairly targets and inconveniences people who made a one time mistake. The American Beverage Association supports interlock programs for High BAC offenders (.15%) which is more correlated with chronic alcoholics and multiple DUI offenders.
If it is declared a success, the interlock pilot program is expected to gradually expand to all California counties over the next several years.