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New California Law Mandates In-Car Breathalyzers for Repeat Drunk Drivers

Post Date:02/20/2019 1:00 PM

Under a new Senate Bill 1046, effective January 1, 2019, all repeat offenders and certain first-time offenders must use an ignition interlock device after a drunk driving arrest in California.

The ignition interlock device, commonly known as a breathalyzer, measures the alcohol in a person’s system. If that amount exceeds a pre-programmed level, then the interlock temporarily locks the vehicle’s ignition and the car won't start. The device also requires the person to retake the test at random intervals while driving on the road, known as a rolling re-test. The data received from all breath samples are sent to the authority (e.g. court, probation, DMV, etc.) that ordered the device to be installed.

The goal of the program is to prevent offenders from driving drunk again and injuring or killing people.
As of January 1, people convicted of:
  • A first DUI involving no injuries may choose to have a devicce installed in their cars for six months and retain full driving privileges. Or, they may forgo a device and opt for a one-year restricted license that permits them only to drive to and from work or school and to and from a treatment program. Judges retain discretion to require a device for these first offenders.
  • A first DUI involving an injury results in mandatory device installation for one year.
  • A second DUI also results in mandatory device installation for one year.
  • A third DUI results in a mandatory device installation for two years.
  •  A fourth DUI and subsequent convictions result in mandatory device installation for three years.

An ignition interlock device costs approximately $60 to $80 per month for monitoring and calibration, plus an estimated $70 to $150 for installation. Senate Bill 1046 establishes a sliding scale of assistance enabling low-income offenders to pay 10 percent, 25 percent or 50 percent of the device costs depending on income. The device provider would pay the rest.

For more information, reference Senator Jerry Hill's Press Release on the rollout of this new statewide program. 
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