The most recent legislation regarding California DUI laws stems from Senate Bill 1046—a bill signed into effect September 28, 2016. The law will make ignition interlock devices (IIDs) a mandatory penalty for the majority of California DUI offenders. But while DUI convictions are serious offenses that most will agree warrant the severe penalities, there are several opponents who disagree with the bill’s approval.
An IID is a device that is designed to detect alcohol on the breath of a driver. It’s connected to the vehicle’s ignition component and will prevent the car from starting if the driver has been drinking alcohol. Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into effect which states an IID would be mandatory in the following circumstances:
- First time DUI involving injury – six month IID requirement
- First time non-injury-causing DUI – six month IID requirement with driving privileges (in lieu of a one-year suspension and restricted driver’s license)
- Second DUI – one year IID requirement
- Third DUI – two year IID requirement
- Fourth and/or subsequent DUI – three year IID requirement
The law will take effect beginning January 1, 2019, and will not expire until 2026 unless terms are modified. Senator Hill also extended the pilot program requiring a five month IID installment for first time DUI offenders who reside in one of four California counties. Los Angeles is one of those counties which solidifies the need to consult a DUI Los Angeles attorney regardless of the mis-perceived leeway given to first time offenders.
Supporters and Opponents
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) helped lead the initiative with remarks from the organization’s board member, Mary Klotzbach. As the mother of a son killed by a drunk driver, Klotzbach stressed that no parent should have to face a similar fate at a time when technology exists to stop it. The senator himself commented that the bill would save lives and that “the state should not condone [DUI].”
Sarah Longwell of the American Beverage Institute opposed the bill citing California’s already-stressed resources along with the higher risk posed by multiple DUI offenders. Longwell argued that while IIDs are a useful tool, they should be required for the “hard core population” who are “habitually driving at extreme intoxication levels.” With the cost of an IID ranging from $60-80 monthly with additional costs for maintenance, opponents have argued ignition interlocks are expensive to monitor and enforce. As with any mandatory sentence, the IID law also challenges the discretionary rulings of California judges.
Current CA DUI Penalties
Currently, first time DUI offenders in the state of California may be ordered to install an IID and pay steeper fines although such requirements are considered to be the maximum penalty. By hiring an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney, county residents can avoid even the minimum penalties which entail:
- Fines and penalty assessments
- 48-hour jail sentence or 90-day license restriction that allows for work-only commuting
- 3-9 month alcohol treatment program
- 30-day loss of driver’s license
Ignition interlock devices are only mandatory upon a driver’s second and/or subsequent DUI if you live outside the 4 counties. If the DUI results in injury or death—even for first time offenders—the penalty will extend beyond IID and typically result in additional jail time or state prison and a license suspension or revocation.
Whether SB 1046 will reduce DUI convictions and alcohol-related accidents is yet to be determined. Senator Hill’s bill will undoubtedly increase the average total cost of a DUI which is currently estimated between $15,000 and $45,000 in total expenses.