California lawmakers debate all-offender ignition interlock bill

California lawmakers are debating a bill that would make ignition interlocks mandatory for all DUI offenders.

California may soon require ignition interlock devices installed in the vehicles of everyone convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol in the state. According to CBS Sacramento, lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would expand a current four-county pilot program to cover the entire state. Supporters of the bill say that based on similar legislation in other states, including in neighboring Arizona, fatal car accidents caused by drunk driving could be dramatically reduced if the bill passes.

Sweeping ignition interlock law

California is currently conducting a pilot program in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare counties, where ignition interlocks are mandatory for all DUI offenders, including first offenders. According to the Sacramento Bee, while judges outside of those counties have the option of ordering offenders to install ignition interlocks, they rarely do so.

The bill, Senate Bill 1046, would make ignition interlocks mandatory for all DUI offenders, essentially expanding the current four-county program to cover the entire state. The length of time an offender would be required to have the ignition interlock installed in their vehicles would vary between five months and three years, depending on the number of previous DUI convictions they have. The cost of the devices, which are about $3 per day, would be borne by the offenders themselves.

Dramatic reductions in fatalities

Supporters of the bill point out that 25 other states have already passed all-offender ignition interlock laws and many of them have seen dramatic declines in drunk driving fatalities since doing so. West Virginia, for example, saw a 40 percent drop in fatal drunk driving accidents since passing such a law, while Arizona saw an even more dramatic 50 percent plunge in drunk driving fatalities.

Furthermore, a report by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) says that current ignition interlock devices have already prevented over 1.77 million drunk driving trips, with more than 124,000 would-be drunk drivers prevented from starting their cars in California alone. An ignition interlock is a device that is hooked up to a car's ignition. For drivers to start their car, they must first blow into the device and register a blood-alcohol content reading below a preset level.

Personal injury law

Drunk driving is one of the most reckless behaviors any motorist can engage in. Such behavior needlessly puts the lives of everybody else who uses the road at risk, including other vehicle users, cyclists, and pedestrians. For those who have been injured in an accident that may have been caused by a drunk driver it is important to contact a personal injury attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can inform drunk driving accident victims about whether they may be entitled to additional compensation for the ordeal they have been through.