Mandatory Ignition Interlock Device Bill in California

September 16, 2016

The California legislature passed a bill that would mandate the use of ignition interlock devices if you or a loved one is convicted of driving while under the influence (DUI). The state senate voted unanimously in favor of Senate Bill 1046. The sponsor of the legislation was Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo).


Ignition Interlock Laws Already on the Books

California law already mandates the installation of an ignition interlock device if you (1) have multiple DUI convictions on your record or (2) had a blood alcohol content of 0.15 or above.

SB 1046 would extend the ignition interlock mandate to first-time and low-BAC offenders, according to the San Mateo Patch. In addition, the bill would make ignition interlock devices a requirement statewide. Currently, a pilot program is in place that is limited in scope to Alameda, Los Angeles, Tulare and Sacramento counties.


How Ignition Interlock Devices Work

If an ignition interlock device is installed in your vehicle, you will not be able to turn the vehicle on until you take a breathalyzer test. If you blow a 0.08 or above, the ignition locks and your car will not start.

“It’s been tested, studied and proven: Use of ignition interlock devices saves lives,” said State Senator Jerry Hill, according to the aforementioned Patch article.


Specifics of SB 1046

If the bill is signed into law, it would not go into effect immediately. The legislation states that it would become effective in January 2019. The specific provisions of the law state:

  • If you are a first-time DUI offender, but you caused an accident that injured a third party, an ignition interlock device would be mandatory for six months.
  • If you are a first-time DUI offender and you did not harm a third party, you will have the option of the six-month ignition interlock device requirement or accepting a one-year restricted driver’s license that would prohibit you from driving anywhere other than work and home.
  • If you are convicted of your second DUI, the ignition interlock device will be mandatory for one year. A third DUI conviction would require two years of using the device and a fourth DUI conviction would require the device be used for three years (and would likely rise to a felony charge).

In addition to the hassle and inconvenience of the device, there is a cost. On average, you will be required to pay between $60 to $80 per month for the “privilege” to use the ignition interlock device.


Pushback on SB 1046

Not everyone is supportive of the bill. For example, an article was published on the Orange County Register highlighting the fact that data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that between 80% and 85% of DUI offenders mandated to use the ignition interlock device do not actually install them in their vehicles. In addition, there is a serious safety risk associated with these devices since they require “rolling retests” where drivers have to blow at random intervals while driving. Such a requirement increases the risk of a distracted driving accident.


Best Way to Avoid an Ignition Interlock Device: Hire an Experienced and Aggressive DUI Defense Lawyer

The best way to avoid the hassle of an ignition interlock device is to prevail in court, or have the charges reduced, so you would not have to install the device in your vehicle. This can be accomplished by retaining an experienced, aggressive, and highly skilled DUI defense lawyer. At The Law Offices of Peter Berlin, we have years of experience in helping those who have been accused of drunk driving. We are dedicated to providing excellent service in order to maximize your chances of having the DUI charges dropped. Our firm offers a free initial consultation, and we are available 24/7, nights, weekends and holidays. Contact us today.