California considers ignition interlocks for all offenders

Without a doubt, drunk driving is a major problem on California roads. Each year, approximately 20,000 people are seriously injured and 1,000 people are killed due to intoxicated drivers.

To address the problem, California lawmakers are in the process of considering a bill that would require every DUI offender to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles. The goal of this measure is to cut down on the number of accidents caused by drunk driving and deter those convicted from reoffending again.

About the proposed law

Under the proposed legislation, the state's current ignition interlock device program would be greatly expanded. If passed, the law would require all first-time offenders to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicles. This would be a significant departure from the current law, which allows second or subsequent offenders to install ignition interlocks as a prerequisite to obtaining a restricted drivers' license.

Ignition interlock devices are connected to the vehicle's ignition. The device functions in a similar manner as a breathalyzer. In order to start the car, the driver must blow a breath sample into the device. If the device detects alcohol on the driver's breath, it prevents the car from starting. Drivers must also submit to periodic breath tests while traveling to their destinations. Any violations are recorded and later reported to the DMV.

The proposed requirements are driven in a large part by the positive results of a pilot program in effect in four California counties. Since 2010, those convicted of misdemeanor DUI (even first-time offenders) in these counties were required to install an ignition interlock device as a condition of being reissued a drivers' license. Since the pilot program became effective, it has prevented over one million drunk driving instances, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). If the requirements of the program were implemented across the state, it is believed that it would have an even greater positive influence.

If charged with DUI, seek legal help

Regardless of whether this bill becomes law, if you are convicted of DUI in California, having to install an ignition interlock device is the least of your problems. Even if it is your first offense, you face the loss of your drivers' license, jail time, heavy fines and the required completion of an alcohol-treatment program, in addition to the possible loss of employment prospects.

Due to what is at stake, it is important to seek the assistance of an experienced criminal law attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. An attorney can assess the case against you and work to secure the best possible outcome available under the circumstances.