Mothers Against Drunk Driving is currently making a big push to support a bill in the California legislature. Senate Bill 1046 would make ignition interlock devices mandatory for all drivers convicted of DUI, a policy shift the organization says could save countless lives on the road.
As BakersfieldNow.com reports, MADD activists believe that the bill, submitted by Senator Jerry Hill of San Mateo, would help California join the 25 other states that recognize that zero-tolerance ignition interlock device policies help prevent deadly accidents. According to the organization, nearly one-third of all drunk driving-related deaths are caused by repeat offenders.
The ignition interlock device policy is being tested through pilot programs in four different counties in the state: Los Angeles, Sacramento, Alameda, and Tulare. MADD believes that these programs have been effective in keeping impaired drivers off the road.
"Over 1 million times just in those four county pilots that somebody who is already a convicted DUI offender has tried to blow into the ignition airlock and has physically stopped them from drinking and driving because they have some sort of impairment," MADD California Program Manager Aaron Wade told the press.
Ignition Interlock Device Law
Ignition interlock devices are devices installed in the vehicles of some convicted drunk drivers. The technology forces the driver to first blow into a breathalyzer. If the driver registers a low blood alcohol content level, they are able to start their car. If they do not, the car cannot be started and the device electronically logs the attempt.
Under current California law, not all drivers convicted of DUI are sentenced to ignition interlock device compliance—only some repeat offenders or offenders who had aggravating factors in their case are. Senate Bill 1046 would make these devices mandatory for all convicted drivers for a period of time following their mandatory drivers' license suspension.
Not everyone is supportive of Senate Bill 1046. ABC 30 spoke with local DUI defense attorney who doesn't think the data is there to support a zero-tolerance policy. "There's really absolutely no evidence to support that initial, first offense DUI offenders that might be a .08 close to the legal limits, .10, that an IID is going to be effective in deterring them," he told the station.
A 42-year-old Tulare man who was recently sentenced to use the device also told ABC 30 that those like him in his alcohol education course faced another challenge of using the device: the costs associated with its installation and maintenance. "Most of the people in my class, it was cost prohibitive for them to have it, so they just drove without it," he said. "I don't think it was keeping anybody off the road."
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