California could soon be among the 25 states that require drivers with a first DUI conviction to install ignition interlock devices in any vehicles that they drive. The new law would not affect the penalties for anyone convicted of DUI in Los Angeles, since Los Angeles, Alameda, Sacramento and Tulare Counties have been operating under a pilot program that requires an IID for first-time offenders since 2011.
Senate Bill 1046, championed by Senator Jerry Hill, passed the Senate in late August; the California State Assembly approved a similar bill earlier in the year. The legislation now sits on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk; he must decide by September 30th whether or not to approve the bill or veto it.
If the bill becomes law, a first DUI offense would require installation of an IID for six months, with lengthier periods for increasing offenses. (Second DUI – one year; third DUI – two years; fourth and any subsequent DUIs – three years.)
MADD supports the legislation, especially in light of the increase in DUI-related fatalities in California. In 2015, state authorities attributed 882 fatalities (28.7 of all traffic deaths) to drivers who had blood alcohol contents of 0.08 or higher. That reflects a 1.7 percent increase from 2014.
But the California Department of Motor Vehicles has not come out in support of the legislation. In June 2016, it released an evaluation of California’s four-county ignition interlock pilot program. The report had two key findings:
• Program participants had lower DUI recidivism rates than other DUI offenders, but these lower rates diminished significantly over time.
• Individuals who had an IID-restricted license had a higher increase in fatal crashes and in serious injury crashes than DUI offenders whose licenses were only suspended or revoked. (Some sources have suggested this could be related to fact that motorists must breathe into the device at random times while they are driving.)
The California DMV has recommended that the state convene a task force with representatives from the legislature, the courts, law enforcement and other public agencies to study the issue further and to make recommendations on the best way to strengthen the state’s response to DUI.
Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer, Michael Kraut, of the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers is standing by to offer critical insight into your case and potential defense options. Call him and his team today to begin regaining control over your case and your life.