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CA ignition interlock pilot program hopes to reduce DUI deaths

California is piloting an ignition interlock device program, requiring all convicted DUI offenders to have an IID installed in their vehicles.

Despite countless national and state campaigns warning drivers to avoid drinking and driving, some people still choose to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. As a result, many people have lost their lives. In 2012 alone, drunk drivers took the lives of over 10,300 people and injured an additional 345,000 people, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Approximately 802 of those deaths occurred in California, which resulted in a 3.6 percent increase from 2011. Many organizations, including MADD, believe that ignition interlock devices are extremely helpful in reducing the number of DUI car accidents, deaths and injuries.

Understanding ignition interlock devices

An ignition interlock device is a small, cellphone-sized breath test machine that is wired directly into the ignition system of the offender’s vehicle, according to the Century Council. The interlock device will detect if there is any alcohol present in the driver’s breath sample. If the amount of alcohol present in the sample measures less than the preset amount, which is usually 0.02 percent, the car will start. Subsequent breath samples are required throughout the drive to keep the car going.

California’s pilot program

In an attempt to reduce the number of car accident fatalities caused by drunk drivers, California has implemented an ignition interlock device pilot program in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Alameda and Tulare Counties. In these areas, all convicted DUI offenders will be required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles for a minimum of five months, as ordered by the courts. The pilot program will last until the end of 2015.

Interlock devices save lives

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that interlock devices reduce the DUI recidivism rate by 67 percent. This is extremely significant since as many as 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive with a suspended license.

In addition to California’s pilot program, 22 states have mandatory interlock device laws for first-time DUI offenders. Many of these states have seen a dramatic reduction in their drunk driving fatality rates as a result of mandatory IID laws. While Arizona has seen a 43 percent decrease in their DUI fatality rate, Oregon has reported a 42 percent decline.

Contact an attorney

People who have been injured or lost a loved one due to the negligence of a drunk driver may find it helpful to speak with an attorney regarding their legal options. Whether you suffer from severe or chronic injuries as a result of the accident, cannot pay your medical bills or have been forced to take time off of work, an attorney may be able to help you get the compensation you deserve.

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