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New law means mandatory breath tests for California DUI offenders

More DUI offenders in California will soon be required to submit to and pass a breath test (breathalyzer) before starting their vehicles. Starting in 2019, a pilot program that started in certain Golden State counties will be expanded statewide because of a bill that was passed with unanimous support. The new law requires first-time DUI offenders involved in incidents that resulted in injuries to use an ignition interlock device (IID) that only allows a vehicle to be started if a breath test is passed.

Drivers convicted of DUI charges for the first time will have to use an IID device to start their vehicles for six months. Repeat DUI offenders will have to leave the device in place for a year or more. The device also requires drivers to submit to random tests while their vehicle is being operated to discourage individuals from waiting until they pass their initial test to consume alcohol. A spokesperson for the company that installs the devices believes IIDs will provide added protection "like no other process will."

Supporters of the new law further contend that the requirement to take a breath test before starting a vehicle will be a better deterrent than license suspension alone. There's also compelling evidence suggesting that IID-restricted licenses contribute to a reduction in repeat DUI offenses. While the law won't keep all DUI offenders off the road if they attempt to drive again when under the influence, many supporters feel it will make a noticeable difference.

Because drunk driving charges can have serious and long-term consequences, anyone accused of a DUI offense may benefit from seeking legal assistance as soon as they are arrested. In addition to explaining DUI laws to an accused driver, an attorney can prepare a defense against such charges. A lawyer may be able to have DUI charges reduced or dismissed if there is evidence suggesting proper procedures weren't followed. Also, simply driving erratically does not mean a driver was impaired, and in some cases, it may be possible to question test results or attribute symptoms like fatigue and disorientation to valid medical conditions.

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