CA Lawmaker Proposes Ignition Interlocks For All Convicted Drunk Drivers

This week, a new bill is set to be proposed in California that could impact those convicted of drunk driving, expanding a program that's already in place in some states and Californian counties. If passed, all convicted drunk drivers will have to install an ignition interlock device into their car, requiring them to blow into a tube in order to get the car to start. Over the limit? The car won't start, and vice versa. It's a simple mechanism.

Like most legal punishments, this one wouldn't last forever. Those convicted once of drunk driving will be required to use the device for six months, whereas the second conviction extends that to one year. Beyond that, we'd assume that even rougher penalties would be imposed.

Drunk Driving
Flickr: Tim Hamilton

The goal of this bill is to thwart drunk driving from ever happening, but whether or not having to install a humiliating device in your car would be enough of a deterrent remains to be seen. Those behind the bill think it's an important one to pass, as over 1,000 Californians die each year due to drunk drivers, while another 20,000 are injured. It goes without saying; those numbers are pretty high for something as unneeded as driving while intoxicated.

Of course, these new laws wouldn't be bulletproof – a convicted drunk driver could have someone else blow into the tube for them to get the car started (yes, I'd have to imagine such 'friends' exist), and if not that, legend has it that an air-filled balloon could defeat some of these systems as well. These might sound like exaggerated scenarios, but they could happen.

I don't have much sympathy for drunk drivers, so I am interested in seeing how successful this rollout would prove to be. If it does in fact get proven that these are powerful enough deterrents to drop drunk driver fatalities, it seems like there'd be a pretty good chance of seeing other states adopt it as well. 

Tags:  law