The penalties for a drunk driving conviction depend on where you were arrested. Each state has their own DUI laws and penalties. However, even in California the penalty you receive could depend on the county where you were pulled over. Under a California pilot program, some drivers required an ignition interlock device (IID) after their first DUI conviction. Now, state lawmakers are moving towards taking the program statewide.
An IID is a device that is installed on the car's steering column and acts like a breathalyzer to start the car. The vehicle will only start after the driver breathes a clean breath into the device. After starting, the IID will require “rolling” samples every 5 to 15 minutes for the car to continue operating. Each time the IID prompts the driver to provide a breath sample, the driver has six minutes to blow a clean breath into the device, or the failed breath test will be recorded.
Under the current pilot program, four counties require an IID for any DUI violation, even for a first-time DUI. This includes Alameda, Los Angeles, Tulare, and Sacramento. Other counties require IIDs for multiple DUI convictions. The California State Senator from San Mateo, Jerry Hill, introduced State Bill 1046 to make the IID a statewide requirement for first-time DUIs. Last month, the Senate Public Safety Committee unanimously approved the bill.
If the bill passes, California would be the 26th state to require ignition interlock devices for DUI convictions. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr have also given their support to the legislation. Proponents argue people arrested for their first DUI may have driven drunk on prior occasions, but were never caught.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the average driver convicted of a DUI has driven while impaired more than 80 times before they are first arrested. IID requirements also help prevent impaired drivers from being re-arrested. In neighboring Arizona, officials have attributed IID requirements with reducing DUIs by almost 50%. A study from the University of Pennsylvania found that in states with IID requirements for all DUIs, drunk driving fatalities fell an average of 15%.
However, not everyone is convinced that mandatory IIDs will stop drunk driving. Some opponents say the focus should be on repeat offenders. Even repeat offenders may not be deterred. “If you want to stop drinking or start drinking it's up to you,” said Cesar Morales, who has two DUI convictions, and an IID requirement. “If you don't, you don't.”
At the Gorelick Law Offices, attorney Lynn Gorelick has dedicated her legal career to defending people in the East Bay charged with driving under the influence. For over 30 years, she has personally handled hundreds of cases involving people arrested for DUIs. If you have been arrested for a DUI here in the East Bay, there is still time to keep the conviction off your record, and avoid an IID. You do not have to plead guilty just because you were arrested. Contact a local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands local DUI laws, and will make sure you get the justice you deserve.