New Statewide Ignition Interlock Law Protects Public, Ensures DUI Offenders Drive Sober

Friday, December 28, 2018

SAN DIEGO, CA – Just days away from New Year’s Eve, California State Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit, and representatives from the League of California Cities and LifeSafer announced the implementation of SB 1046 – a new state law effective January 1, 2019 that requires DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock device into their vehicle(s). The device measures the driver’s alcohol intake and, if over the limit, can prevent the vehicle from starting.

The research is clear: interlock devices save lives and make our roads safer by preventing drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel,” said Assemblymember Todd Gloria. “Regardless of where you live in California, public safety should always be a given. Expanding this already successful program statewide helps ensure those convicted of DUI do not become repeat offenders, and we make our roads are safer. This is a win for communities up and down the Golden State.”

Under the provisions of SB 1046, authored by State Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) and signed into law in 2016, individuals arrested for DUI of alcohol after January 1, 2019 can only retain full driving privileges by installing an ignition interlock device in their vehicle(s). The device measures the alcohol in the driver’s breath and prevents the car from starting unless the driver is sober.

Ignition interlock devices are a game changer in the fight to stop the revolving door of repeat offenders. Law enforcement officers across the state are already working hard to keep drunk drivers off the road; SB 1046 helps the system work smarter by ensuring DUI offenders can continue to work, drive their kids to school, drive to and from treatment – they just cannot drive impaired,” said Mary Klotzbach, a representative of Mothers Against Drunk Driving whose son, Matt, was killed by a drunk driver. “The work my husband and I have done to get SB 1046 passed is the legacy of my son, Matt. He chose to serve – and now, he is saving lives in a way we never anticipated.”

Beginning January 1, 2019, DUI offenders must install and ignition interlock device under the following circumstances: 

  • First DUI offense with NO INJURY: offender can choose a six-month ignition interlock with full driving privileges or a one-year restricted license (to and from work or a treatment program) with no ignition interlock. Judges also retain discretion to require interlock devices for first offenders.
  • First DUI offense WITH INJURY: mandatory ignition interlock for one year.
  • Second DUI offense: mandatory ignition interlock for one year.
  • Third DUI offense: mandatory ignition interlock for two years.
  • Fourth and subsequent DUI’s: mandatory ignition interlock for three years.

The new statewide ignition interlock program builds on the success of a four-county pilot program that mandated interlock devices for all DUI offenders in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare counties since 2010. A study of the pilot program performed by the California Department of Motor Vehicles found that first-time DUI offenders who had ignition interlocks installed were 74 percent less likely to drive drunk again as compared to individuals who had their driver’s license suspended.

LifeSafer, the first ignition interlock device available in California, has prevented more than 12,000 would-be drunk drivers from getting on the road from December 2016-December 2017. Across the United States, ignition interlock devices have stopped more than 1.7 million would-be drunk drivers from getting on the road.

According to the California Highway Patrol, 59 drivers in the San Diego area were arrested on suspicion of DUI and six people were killed in traffic accidents during the New Year’s holiday weekend last year. Every year in California, over 1,000 people die and more than 20,000 are injured by drunk drivers.