Senate Bill 1046, introduced by Senator Jerry Hill, is an expansion of a pilot program introduced in 2010 that requires those convicted of DUI to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on their vehicle. The program has shown success in Los Angeles, Tulare, Alameda, and Sacramento counties and as a result Senator Hill looks to expand the program throughout the entire state.
In 2010 Assembly Bill 91 was passed which made the installation of an IID a possible punishment for first-time DUI convictions in four counties in California. Offenders in Los Angeles, Tulare, Alameda, and Sacramento counties who were convicted of DUI with drugs/alcohol, felony DUI with injury, or vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated are required to install an IID on any vehicle that they operate. In counties where the program has not yet been implemented the judge has the discretion to determine whether an IID should be installed by the offender.
The program has seen success in reducing the number of repeat drunk driving convictions and this success has led to California lawmakers wanting to expand the program to the entire state of California. While the pilot program expires in 2017 passage of the bill would lead to it becoming effective July 1, 2017. Despite having passed the Senate Public Safety Committee with a unanimous vote the bill still has some hurdles to overcome, however it does have a great deal of support throughout California and is expected to become state law.
The bill has had some backlash for perhaps being too broad. For example, a judge is often able to use his or her discretion to determine if the DUI offender poses a serious threat to the safety of others on the road or whether this was an individual who was only slightly over the legal limit at the time of their arrest. Some argue that this punishment may not necessarily fit the crime in all scenarios. Others fear that the financial burden could pose a challenge to many who are convicted due to the initial cost of installing the device as well as ongoing maintenance.
Passage of the bill would make California the 26th state to require all convicted drunk drivers to install an IID on their vehicle. A recent report by Mothers Against Drunk Driving found that the installation of IIDs have prevented more than one million occurrences of drunk driving in California since 2010 which would make it very hard for lawmakers to vote against it.