Calif. Senator Introduces Ignition Interlock Bill

It’s estimated drunk drivers kill more than 1,000 Californians and injure more than 20,000 each year.

On Monday morning, State Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), announced he is introducing legislation that would require everyone convicted of driving under the influence to install an "Ignition Interlock Device," or IID, on his or her vehicle. The senator's best friend was killed in a drunk driving accident 30 years ago.

The car engine will only start after the driver blows into the ignition device and the blood alcohol level is within the pre-set limit.

Hill said California is playing catchup – 24 states already have similar laws in place. The legislation would expand a pilot program in effect in four California counties: Alameda, Tulare, Sacramento and Los Angeles, which all require convicted drunk drivers to install the devices.

Women with Mothers Against Drunk Driving  stood alongside law enforcement officials behind Hill at the Courthouse Plaza in Redwood City Monday morning. MADD launched a campaign in 2006 to eliminate drunk driving that includes calling on states to require the ignition lock installations, citing a statistic that 50- to 70-percent of convicted DUI offenders continue to drive without a license.

Under Hill’s proposed bill, drivers would have to install and use an IID depending on the number of DUI convictions:

  • 1st DUI offense: 6 months in jail
  • 2nd DUI offense: 1 year in prison
  • 3rd DUI offense: 2 years in prison
  • 4th DUI offense: 3 years in prison

Right now, only 20 percent of people convicted of DUIs opt to install an ignition lock versus driving with a restricted license, Hill's office said. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the locks are very effective in cutting the recidivism rate of drunk driving offenses by 67 percent.

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