Jerry Hill Introduces Bill to Keep Repeat DUI Offenders from Drunk Driving Again

The legislation requires ignition interlock devices on vehicles after a second DUI conviction.

Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, will introduce legislation Friday that would require ignition interlock devices for repeat DUI offenders, his office announced Thursday.

Hill will hold a news conference to announce the legislation Friday, along with the California Highway Patrol and other Peninsula law enforcement officers, that aims to crack down on drivers convicted of more than one DUI.

The bill would require an individual convicted of a second driving-under-the-influence offense to install and use an IID for one year and comply with IID calibrations every other month before full driving privileges are restored, according to Hill's office.

A third DUI conviction would result in IID installation and use for two years; a fourth or subsequent DUI conviction would require use of an IID for three years.

Hill will also call attention to DUI crackdowns and checkpoints conducted by Peninsula law enforcement departments.

The CHP and other public safety departments will offer details of their driver sobriety and safety programs, which are at their height during the holiday season.

The news conference will take place at 10 a.m. at the Redwood City's California Highway Patrol office, located at 355 Convention Way.

An ignition interlock device is connected to a vehicle’s ignition and requires a breath sample before the engine starts. The device prevents the car’s engine from starting if the device detects a blood alcohol level that exceeds a pre-set limit.

Under current state law, installation of IIDs is optional for repeat offenders. About 20 percent of those who have a choice of installing an IID or driving on a restricted license opt for IID installation.

Hill's legislation would require repeat DUI offenders to complete an IID program in addition to completing the DUI prevention course required by current law. Under current law, second-time DUI offenders must complete an 18-month DUI course; third-time offenders or more, a 30-month course. 

In 2009, the most recent year in which conviction data is available, there were 161,074 DUI convictions in California. Of those, 117,642 or 73 percent were first time offenders and 43,432 or 27 percent were repeat offenders. The same year, drunk drivers killed more than 1,200 people and injured 26,000 in California.

Earlier this month, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that all people convicted of drunk driving should have ignition interlock devices installed in their cars to prevent them from operating their vehicle while intoxicated. 

The NTSB said that legislation requiring ignition interlock even after the first DUI -- even for drivers who are "only a sip" over the legal limit -- could be a major factor in preventing collisions. Just two days ago, the day after Christmas, AAA joined the NTSB inn calling for IID installation for anyone convicted of drunk driving.

Currently, 17 states require ignition interlock devices for first-time DUI offenders and at least 24 states require IID's for repeat offenders.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) believes that IID's reduce recidivism by roughly 67 percent – a figure that also is cited by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mandating ignition interlocks is the CDC's top recommendation for reducing alcohol-related driving deaths, which account for about a third of all traffic fatalities, according to the agency.

As of this year, about 279,000 ignition interlock devices were installed and operating in the United States, including 24,000 in California.

According to data collected through New Mexico's IID program, recidivism rates were reduced by 75 percent for offenders in the program compared to non-participating offenders. The same study found that alcohol-involved crashes declined 31 percent between 2002 and 2007, according to statistics compiled by Richard Roth, executive director of Impact DWI.

In 2010, Hill authored Assembly Bill 1601, which authorized California judges to revoke licenses for repeat DUI offenders for up to 10 years. The law went into effect January 1, 2012 and has the potential to take as many as 10,000 drivers off the road each year.

In 2011, Hill authored Assembly Bill 45 to crack down on underage drinking on party buses. The law goes into effect January 1, 2013, and requires chaperones on party buses when passengers are age 21 or younger and enacts penalties for bus drivers and companies that don't comply.


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