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Sacramento proposes drunk driving bill, targeting repeat offenders

Recently, two pedestrians and one vehicle passenger lost their lives in separate car crashes, marking the last of 19 pedestrian fatalities for 2012, and the first two traffic deaths of the New Year in the Bay Area. The incidents spur discussion concerning the need for the stronger prevention of drunk driving accidents. One incident resulted from a police chase, where a speeding motorist crashed into another vehicle. The collision killed a female passenger and a pedestrian who was walking into a corner store. In an unrelated crash, a visiting Chinese citizen was killed when a drunk 23-year-old driver struck the woman and three others. Because various car accidents and pedestrian strikes often result from drunk driving, local legislatures are working to address this issue. A bill was introduced in Sacramento late last year in an effort to crack down on repeat drunk drivers. The proposed law would require an in-car sobriety device, such as an ignition interlock, to start the cars of twice-convicted drunk driving offenders. An ignition intercept device samples a motorist’s breath and a vehicle will not start if the driver’s blood-alcohol content is too high to drive. In 2009, there were 161,000 drunk driving arrests and convictions in California – 27 percent of which involved repeat offenders. The purpose of the bill is to address the high rate of drunk drivers who do not modify their behavior, despite prior convictions. Nevertheless, safety advocates such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) prefer a stronger deterrent. The organization asks that all motorists convicted of drunk driving have a device installed in their vehicles (not just second, but also first-time offenders).According to MADD’s website, approximately every 53 minutes a person dies in a car accident due to the perils of drunk driving. The organization explains that approximately one-third of the drunk driving accidents involve repeat offenders. This includes arrests, crashes, deaths and injuries. Some question the cost-effectiveness of the device. The ignition intercept device costs about $100 initially, but it requires continuous calibration to ensure accuracy. That can run an additional $50 to $100 every two months.

Nevertheless, the high amount of drunk driving fatalities will not reduce unless safety agencies address the issue. With a number of car accidents occurring at the hands of repeat offenders, something needs to be done.

If you or a loved one has been harmed in a serious drunk driving accident, contact an experienced personal injury law attorney, who can help you evaluate your means of recourse.

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