As 2012 starts to settle in, I wanted to cover an increasing trend in California counties: Ignition Interlock Devices. As part of several pilot counties, the court is requiring among other things, the installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle in order to qualify for a restricted drivers license.
During this past legislative session, the California Legislature passed two new laws that will affect the rights and responsibilities of those convicted of certain drunk driving offenses. Assembly Bill 91 and Senate Bill 598 both involve the use of ignition interlock devices, or IIDs.
- AB 91 creates a pilot program for select counties, such as Los Angeles County, that will require all drivers convicted of a DUI offense to install IIDs in their vehicles as a condition to receive restricted driving privileges.
- SB 598 shortens the amount of time certain repeat DUI offenders will have to wait before becoming eligible to apply for restricted California driving privileges. To receive the restricted license though, these drivers will be required to meet certain criteria, such as the installation of an IID in their vehicles.
Both laws were signed by Governor Schwarzenegger on October 11, 2009 and go into effect on July 1, 2010. More information on each new law can be found below. If you have been charged with a drunk driving offense in California, it is important to work with an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible to defend against the DUI charges. As the punishments for even a first time drunk driving offense keep getting steeper and steeper, no one can afford the risk of facing their charges without legal representation. Mandatory IID Pilot Program Under current California state law, only certain DUI offenders are required to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles as a condition of receiving restricted driving privileges. For example, courts are given the discretion to order first time DUI offenders with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.15 or greater to install an IID. It is important to note, however, that current law does not make ignition interlock devices mandatory for first time offenders. The pilot program created by AB 91 makes it mandatory for everyone convicted of a DUI, whether a first time or repeat offender, to install an ignition interlock device in every vehicle they own and operate. For example, if you share a vehicle with your significant other or roommate, an IID must be installed in that car before you can drive it. Only four counties are participating in the program: Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare Counties. Some of the other requirements of the law include:
- The individual must certify to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that the device has been installed in all of their vehicles before they can apply for a restricted driver’s license.
- The individual must take the vehicle into the certified provider of the IID every 60 days for maintenance. Missing three or more of these appointments may result in the individual losing his or her driving privileges for an extended period of time.
The amount of time the device will have to remain in the car will depend on how many times the individual has been convicted of a drunk driving offense. For example, those convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (Vehicle Code §23152) can expect to keep the IID for the following amount of time:
- First time offenders: 5 months
- Second time offenders: 12 months
- Third time offenders: 24 months
- Fourth time offenders: 36 months
The program is slated to run from July 1, 2010 to January 1, 2016. Earlier Restricted Licenses for Repeat DUI Offenders The second new law offers shortened license suspension and revocation periods for certain repeat DUI offenders who meet specific criteria. For example, a person convicted of their second drunk driving offense in California, within 10 years of the first one, may become eligible to apply for a restricted driving license after completing the first 90 days of a two year license suspension period. Under the prior version of the law, the individual would have to wait for 12 months before applying for the restricted license. To qualify for the restricted California driver license, drivers must provide:
- Either proof of enrollment or partial completion of a 18 or 30 month certified DUI program
- Proof of financial responsibility (i.e. proof of SR 22 insurance)
- Installation and maintenance of an ignition interlock device
- Payment for any applicable fees, including reinstatement, reissue and restriction fees
The amount of time individuals must wait before becoming eligible to apply for the restricted license and the criteria for obtaining the license vary based on the type of DUI offense, the number of previous convictions and whether the offense included alcohol, drugs or a combination of both. Conclusion The California legislature hopes that by enacting the pilot program and encouraging repeat drunk driving offenders to install ignition interlock devices that the number of DUI arrests and DUI-related accidents in the state will be reduced. The Office of Traffic Safety estimates that as many as 200,000 people are arrested for DUI in California each year. For more information on your rights and options following a DUI arrest, contact an experienced Los Angeles or Orange County DUI attorney. Just because you were charged with a drunk driving charge does not mean you are guilty of the crime. There are ways to defend against these charges and lessen
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