DUI law has continued to change over the years, especially as grass roots programs have continued to address the issue. As a result, new legislation has recently been in the works, which continues to try to prevent driving after drinking. Soon, anyone convicted in California for driving under the influence will be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID).
Senate Bill (SB) 1046 was first introduced to the California State Senate on February 12, 2016, and as of August 23, passed assembly. The bill was presented to the Governor August 31, and is likely to be signed into law this month. SB 1046 would require any person convicted of a DUI in the State of California to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on his or her vehicle for a specified amount of time, as ordered by the court. The installation of an IID would allow drivers to keep their driving privileges intact, rather than face a guaranteed license suspension under the current law.
Existing law provides that the Department of Motor Vehicles immediately suspend a person’s driving privilege when that individual is convicted of a DUI. Further, it allows drivers convicted of a DUI to apply for a restricted license only upon proof of enrollment in mandated Drinking and Driving Programs (DDP). However, drivers are generally required to provide proof of financial responsibility before they will be granted a restricted license.
In 2009, a pilot project was implemented to test the effectiveness of mandated IID installation for anyone convicted of DUIs. The pilot project was implemented in the Counties of Los Angeles, Tulare, Sacramento and Alameda. The project allows for the courts and DMV to test out the mandatory rules that SB 1046 would bring to California: the installation of IIDs for any DUI conviction.
If signed into law, SB 1046 would extend the pilot program until January 1, 2019 in those four counties at which time the IID installation requirement would become effective state-wide.
SB 1046, while seemingly burdensome, also has several benefits for drivers convicted of DUIs. The bill would remove the automatic suspension of a driver’s license when proof is provided showing that an IID has been installed. Further, the bill provides that the courts will, in most circumstances, reduce the large fine associated with DUIs by as much as $500.
SB 1046 has been heavily supported by nationwide organizations that fight hard to prevent drinking and driving. Some of the notable names include: Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the National Transportation Safety Board and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The push for SB 1046 is supported by studies that have shown that IIDs have prevented over 1 million acts of drinking and driving since 2010. Further, in the State of Oregon, DUI deaths have decreased 42% as a result of a 2008 law which mandates IIDs for anyone convicted of a DUI. Moreover, MADD reports that IIDs prevent over 1,900 drunk driving incidents per month in the State of California, significantly cutting down the estimated $5.4 billion that was spent in taxes as a result of drunk driving related costs in 2013.
As with most new laws, there is some opposition to SB 1046. The primary opposing arguments attack the pilot program. It has been suggested that the four counties tested do not accurately predict what would happen if SB 1046 becomes the law in California because the four counties do not reflect an accurate sample of the 54 counties in California. Further, few repeat offenders get another DUI within six months of their first DUI; six months would be the mandated amount of time that would be required for first time offenders to have the IID installed in their car under the new bill. These facts suggest that SB 1046 would have no real effect as very few drivers reoffend within the first six months, which is the period covered by SB 1046.
As it stands currently, it appears that it is only a matter of time before SB 1046 is passed and the new laws become effective. As the law continues to change, it is important to seek immediate help if arrested for a DUI. It is important to reach out to attorneys that are well versed in the ever-changing laws in this area.
¹ Open States, California Senate Bill SB 1046, http://openstates.org/ca/bills/20152016/SB1046/
³ Senate Committee On Public Safety, Driving Under the Influence: Ignition Interlock Device, Senator Loni Hancock, Chair
5 California Legislative Information, SB-1046 Driving under the influence: ignition interlock device. (2015-2016)
6 Senate Committee On Public Safety, Driving Under the Influence: Ignition Interlock Device, Senator Loni Hancock, Chair
8 California Legislative Information, SB-1046 Driving under the influence: ignition interlock device. (2015-2016)