Starting July 1, 2010, a new law requires anyone convicted of DUI in Los Angeles County and three other counties, even first-time offenders, to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in his or her vehicle. (California Vehicle Code section 23700(a)(7).)
IIDs require the driver to blow into a device before the vehicle’s ignition will start. If the IID determines that the driver’s blood alcohol content is above a certain threshold, the vehicle will not start. The purpose of the IID is to prevent previous DUI offenders whose blood alcohol content is above the threshold from driving.
Prior to the new law (and what is still the existing law in the non-pilot program counties), a California court had the discretion to require an IID for a first-time DUI offenders if his or her blood alcohol content was over .15%. (California Vehicle Code section 23575(a)(1).) With the new law, any first-time DUI offender in the affected counties will be required to install an IID unless the offender no longer owns or has access to a vehicle. (California Vehicle Code section 23700(a)(7), (8).)
A first offender must have the IID installed for five months. (California Vehicle Code section 23700(a)(7)(A)(i).) If the first offense involved an injury, the IID must be installed for a year. (California Vehicle Code section 23700(a)(7)(B)(i).) Subsequent DUI convictions and if the DUI caused injury will increase the mandated time the IID must be installed. (See California Vehicle Code section 23700(a)(7)(A), (B).) If the offender’s license was suspended or revoked, the mandatory time the IID must be installed starts when the offender regains his or her right to drive. (California Vehicle Code section 23700(a)(3).)
The type and cost of an IID varies by county, but the offender is usually responsible for installing and maintaining the device. (California Vehicle Code section 23700(a)(10).) In addition, the offender must pay the monthly lease for the device. Thus, the cost of an IID can be substantial.
Note that this law applies to convictions after July 1, 2010, even if the incident leading to the conviction happened before July 1. (California Vehicle Code section 23700(a)(7)(a).) The IID requirement does not apply to motorcycles: a person who must install an IID cannot ride a motorcycle during the IID installation period. (California Vehicle Code section 23700(e).)
The pilot program is expected to last until January 1, 2015, and the Department of Motor will report its findings on the effectiveness of the program. (California Vehicle Code section 23701.) If the Legislature approves the findings, the new law may be applied throughout California.
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