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New laws will require ignition locks for repeat DUI offenders


Posted on Oct 23, 2009

Two new California laws hope to prevent traffic accidents and wrongful deaths caused by drunk driving. The laws will require some drivers with prior DUI convictions to install ignition locks that prevent vehicles from starting if alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath.
 
The first bill, authored by Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) creates a test program for Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare Counties. The pilot program would require that the device be installed in every car owned or operated by a first-time DUI offender in these counties.
 
The second law, written by Senator Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), will allow repeat DUI offenders to apply for a restricted driver’s license if they have the device installed in their cars.
  
In 2003, New Mexico was the first state to pass such a law. The number of fatal crashes involving alcohol dropped by 22% in New Mexico from 2002 to 2007. Those who support the law believe that it could reduce repeat DUI’s by 64%, and see this as an important step to protecting public safety. It is estimated that 50-75% of convicted drunken drivers continue to drive despite having their licenses suspended.
  
Some opponents of the law worry that the consequences are not severe enough and question the effectiveness of these devices.  
  
In 2006, drunken driving accounted for 36% of California traffic fatalities.

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