Bill introduced to require ignition interlocks for drunk drivers

Proponents of devices say they lead to dramatic reduction in fatalities

A California state lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require ignition interlock devices to be installed on the vehicles of any driver convicted of a DUI in the state, according to the Sacramento Bee. The proposal follows a pilot program in four California counties as well as similar legislation adopted in other states. Advocates of the legislation say ignition interlock devices have a proven track record of dramatically reducing drunk driving accidents.

Mandatory devices

The bill proposes expanding a pilot program, currently in effect in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare counties, to the entire state. Under the pilot program, drivers convicted of their first DUI are required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle for five months. Repeat offenders are required to have the devices for up to four years. An ignition interlock is a breathalyzer-type device that prevents a car from starting if the driver blows a high blood-alcohol level.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, similar legislation has been proposed in the past. The last time the bill was put before lawmakers it was held up until the results of the pilot program were completed, results that are due this month. Opponents of the legislation say the devices, which are paid for by the drivers themselves, are too expensive for many convicted offenders to afford.

Reduced fatalities

Advocates of the bill, however, point to success stories in other states that have required ignition interlock devices for drunk drivers. Two dozen states have already adopted similar legislation and many of those states have seen drunk driving-related deaths decline by 35 to 43 percent.

While the devices are not perfect, safety advocates note that they are far more effective at keeping drunk drivers off the road than license suspensions. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, says that when it comes to preventing repeat DUI offenses, ignition interlocks are 67 percent more effective than suspending a convicted driver's license. Over 1,000 people are currently killed each year in California in crashes caused by drunk drivers.

Help for victims

Driving while impaired is a reckless decision that endangers the lives of far too many Californians. Each year, thousands of people are injured or killed by drunk drivers and the devastating consequences often extend well into the years ahead. Struggling with how to make a livelihood or recovering from one's injuries are concerns for many accident victims.

For those who have been injured by a drunk driver, strong legal advocacy can be the key to making sure compensation is available to help cover the expenses that often arise after an accident. An experienced personal injury attorney can help accident victims understand what forms of compensation may be available to them, including possible additional claims against an at-fault driver.