All eyes are on California right now, and it’s not for the weather or the scenic views. Sen. Jerry Hill has introduced a new bill in Sacramento, and if passed, California would join the ranks of other states requiring first-time driving under the influence (DUI) offenders to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles.
The new bill would set up a 5-year pilot program for ignition interlock devices, and it would require first offenders to install the device for a period of six months. If they receive another conviction, they’d have to install the interlock device for longer periods of time. Although California has had a voluntary ignition interlock pilot program, the state has had an issue with drivers signing up to participate. Under the new bill, participation would be mandatory and drivers would not lose their driver’s license.
If passed, the new bill would be a good step for California because the current drunk driving rates are dismal. Arrests in the state clearly aren’t the problem – in California there were 172,345 people arrested for DUI in 2012. There were also 803 alcohol-related fatalities, with 97 alcohol-related fatalities for drivers under the age of 21.
Imagine if all of those individuals arrested for DUI in California were required to drive with an ignition interlock device. Because ignition interlocks are known to reduce the likelihood that a drunk driver will drive drunk again by up to 67%, passing this new bill will definitely cut down on the number of arrests and alcohol-related crashes in the state.
Getting behind the wheel after drinking is a choice made by the driver, and drunk driving crashes are 100% preventable. Even one more life lost to drunk driving is one too many, so it’s definitely time for California to join the ranks of other states requiring ignition interlock devices for all offenders.