A new law to think about during the holiday season

December 03, 2016

During the holiday season, we all look forward to getting together with family and friends for good cheer and food. Tragically, some people decide it is also an opportunity to engage in consuming too much alcohol or drugs and then decide to get behind the wheel of an automobile where they put themselves and others lives at risk.

Every year in California, approximately 650 people die from alcohol related car accidents; 150,000 people are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI); and 12,000 injury collisions occur as a result of alcohol consumption. Thirty percent of individuals convicted of DUI are repeat offenders. These statistics need to change, as too many families suffer needless grief and overwhelming loss when a loved one is injured or killed by an impaired driver.

Earlier this year, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill (SB) 1046, which will expand a four county pilot program statewide in 2019 to require that DUI offenders install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicle for a specified period of time in order to get a restricted license or to reinstate their license. An IID prevents a car from starting if the driver’s blood alcohol content is above the legal limit. This means that beginning in 2019, anyone convicted of a first-time DUI will be required to have an IID installed in his or her vehicle to prevent the car from starting if alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath.

It has been shown that a large number of drunk driving offenders ignore the suspension of their license and continue to get behind the wheel of a vehicle. As of 2019, drunk driver offenders will have to blow into an IID and demonstrate that they are sober before driving.

SB 1046 requires most convicted drunk drivers to install the IID’s in order to reinstate their full driving privileges. For a first time conviction the penalty starts at six months and increases to one year for the second conviction, two years for the third conviction, and three years for the fourth or subsequent offense. There is an exception for first-time offenders who do not injure anyone. They will be given the choice between driving with the IID for six months or having their license restricted for one year.

*Published by the Santa Cruz Sentinel on 12/3/16