Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed two bills Sunday that will require or encourage convicted drunk drivers to install ignition-interlock devices in their vehicles. The devices allow a car to be started only if the driver blows into the device and has an acceptably low blood alcohol content. “I took action and signed these bills because we must do everything we can to ensure the public’s safety on the road,” said Schwarzenegger. “By installing ignition interlock devices we are making it harder for DUI offenders to get behind the wheel while intoxicated and we are working to save innocent lives.”
The first bill puts a pilot program into place that will test the efficacy of the plan in a select few counties, including Alameda County. If the pilot program is successful, it will go statewide in 2016. The second bill will allow the convicted drunk drivers to apply for a restricted license if they install the interlock ignition device in counties where it is not a required sentence.
The option of sentencing convicted drunk drivers to install this device has been available to judges for some time, yet it has not been widely used. This could be because some judges weren’t aware of it as an option, or because this particular sentence is more difficult to enforce than simply requiring the convicted to send in a fine.
But in the instances where the devices were used, participants were 15 percent to 69 percent less likely than other offenders to be rearrested for drunken driving. It is expected that similar results will be seen in the pilot program in the next few years, as well as when it goes statewide.
For more information about ignition interlock devices, see this post over at Car Safety Today.