In most states, penalties for drunk driving get more severe with each offense. Often offenders can get away without serving any jail time for a first-time DUI. But to everyone sharing the road with an impaired motorist, a first-time offender is just as dangerous as a habitual drunk driver. And just because a person has been caught driving drunk for the first time doesn’t necessarily mean that they have never driven under the influence before.
With that in mind, California lawmakers recently passed a new law that will require first-time offenders who cause an injury to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. These devices require drivers to pass a breathalyzer test before their car will start.
Pilot Program Expanding to the Whole State
If this sounds familiar, you may live in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, or Tulare county. These four counties took place in a pilot program that requires all drunk drivers to install ignition interlock devices. In other parts of California, some first-time offenders lose their driving privileges completely. Starting on January 1, 2019, the entire state will require all convicted repeat offenders and first offenders who cause injury to install the device.
There will also be penalties for first-time DUI offenders who do not cause injuries. They will be required to either install the device or apply for a route-restricted driver’s license.
Will This Make the Roads Safer?
This law doesn’t go into effect for more than two years, so we will have to wait and see if it has any effect on drunk driving-related accidents and injuries. We hope that by increasing enforcement, fewer people will have to experience the pain and stress of being hit by a drunk driver.