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With the dawn of a new year comes new laws, and one of the most talked about in California stems from SB 1046, which was signed into law back in 2016 and went into effect on January 1, 2019. Under this new legislation, drivers convicted of driving drunk will be required to install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles in order to have their full driving privileges restored. This move looks to curtail new incidences of driving drunk by repeat DUI offenders.

An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer that attaches to the car’s ignition. The driver must blow into the breathalyzer before starting the engine. If the driver is not sober, the car will not start. The use of these devices is already in place in some locations where the program has found success in deterring and preventing subsequent DUI charges—and thus, curtailing DUI accidents that occur as a result. Lawmakers see the passage of the law as a win for communities who are plagued by drunk driving.

Under the new law, first-time offenders who did not cause any injuries during the commission of their DUIs can opt for six months of using the ignition interlock or the restriction of their license for a one-year period. Second-time offenders and any first-time offenders who injure others while committing DUI will be mandated to use the ignition interlock for a one-year period. In the case of a third-time DUI offender, the ignition interlock is mandated for two years. DUIs numbering four or more must use the ignition interlock for a three-year period.

One reason SB 1046 passed successfully through lawmakers’ hands is that it works. A trial run of the program began back in 2010 in four counties, including Tulare, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Almeda. At the end of the study, the California Department of Motor Vehicles reported that first-time offenders were 74 percent less likely to commit subsequent DUI offenses if they were required to use the ignition interlock device as part of their sentencing.

Across the state, drunk drivers kill more than 1,000 people each year and injure an additional 20,000, according to the California Highway Patrol. The problem is on a massive scale. For example, just in San Diego County during the last New Year’s holiday weekend, 59 drivers were cited and arrested for DUI.

The ignition interlock device keeps at least some of those potential DUI drivers off the roadway while allowing those convicted of DUI to continue to drive to work and to court-ordered treatment. For this reason, it is seen as a better solution in some ways of having the offender’s license completely revoked.

If you or someone you love has been affected by the carelessness of a DUI driver, contact our office right away to discuss your case details. Set up your no-cost, no-obligation case review and consultation with our San Francisco drunk driving accident attorney now to determine your best legal options moving forward.

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