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Ignition interlock bill signed into law

On Sept. 28, 2016, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that will mandate the installation of ignition interlock systems in the vehicles of convicted drunk drivers. The law will take effect on Jan. 1, 2019, and it is designed to reduce the number of drunk driving accidents that happen each year.

The author of the bill said that the requirement makes sense because many people whose licenses are suspended following DUI convictions continue to drive. The devices connect a breathalyzer to the ignition of the vehicles in which they are installed. Drivers must blow into the breathalyzer in order to start their cars. If the devices detect alcohol, the vehicles will not start.

In the 25 states that mandate the installation of ignition interlock devices, DUI fatality rates have fallen by 40 percent, and more than 1 million vehicles failed to start in five years because the drivers had alcohol in their systems. A woman who advocated for the bill lost her son when the car their family was in was struck by a drunk driver who had a suspended license. She installed one of the devices in her own car in order to show lawmakers that it was not too onerous of a requirement.

If people are convicted of driving under the influence, they may face multiple penalties, including incarceration, lost or suspended driving privileges, mandatory treatment, probation and fines. Now, they may also face having an ignition interlock system installed in their cars. People who are charged with DUIs may want to consult with criminal defense lawyers in order to devise a strategy to combat the allegations. One possible defense could be to challenge the manner in which field sobriety or chemical tests were conducted.

Source: NBC Bay Area, “Governor signs DUI ignition interlock bill into law,” Terry McSweeney, Sept. 29, 2016.

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John Patrick Ryan has been practicing law for over 20 years. Experienced in criminal law. U.S. Navy Veteran.