(KGTV) - The start of a new year will bring significant changes to laws for California drivers, including those with a history of driving under the influence.
First time and repeat DUI offenders whose violations resulted in injury will be required to use an ignition interlock device for a period between one and two years.
The device is the size of a cell phone and wired into a vehicle’s ignition system. In order to start the vehicle, the driver must blow into the device. The user’s blood alcohol level must be below a pre-set low limit, usually .02, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
If a measurable amount of alcohol is detected, the ignition interlock enters a brief lock-out period of a few minutes, with a longer lockout for any subsequently failed test. The system is also capable of detecting mouthwash, which will trigger a positive test until the alcohol dissipates from the driver’s mouth, usually within minutes.
Once on the road, the devices have ‘running retests’ which require drivers to blow into the locks at random intervals. If the driver fails, the vehicle’s horn will honk or the lights will flash to alert law enforcement to a violation.
The devices aren’t cheap for DUI offenders. They must pay between $70-150 to install, and about $60-80 per month for monitoring and calibration. The standards for the devices are established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The CDC has linked ignition interlock devices to lower DUI rates. The agency’s research found repeat offenses dropped about two-thirds due to the locks.
Mothers Against Drunk Drivers reports the average drunk driver has driven under the influence 80 times before a first arrest. More than 2 million drunk drivers have had three or more prior convictions, according to MADD.
California is one of 31 states to approve the devices.