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New California Law Requires Ignition Interlock Devices after DUI Driver Convictions

Interlock Devices for Convicted DUI Drivers Expanded in 2019

 New California Law Requires Interlock Devices for Certain DUI Driver ConvictionsCALIFORNIA — This was the first year that repeat drunk drivers and certain first-time DUI offenders statewide were required under California law to install an ignition interlock device (IID) to prevent future cases of driving under the influence.

Under Senate Bill 1046 signed by Governor Jerry Brown, the new law took effect on January 1, 2019. Previously the ignition interlock devices were part of a pilot program available only in four counties: Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare. According to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), fatal crashes are reduced by roughly 16 percent when all drunk driving offenders are required to install car breathalyzers.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reports that between 2006 and 2016, the interlock devices recorded 2.3 million car starts that were prevented where a driver had a BAC greater than 0.08. Additionally, data collected by MADD from 11 ignition interlock manufacturers showed there were 350,000 attempts to drive drunk in 2016 alone.

New California Law Helps Prevent Drunk Driving

Now an eligible individual, whose license was suspended due to a certain blood-alcohol concentration (BAC), can apply to have their driving privileges reinstated. The restricted driver’s license requires that an IID is installed.  This IID program does not apply to drugged driving convictions unless alcohol was also involved.

The new law permits certain first-time DUI offenders the ability to quickly get their driving privileges backy. In the past, there was a mandatory suspension period that made it difficult for these offenders to support themselves as they had difficulty traveling to work or school.

The new law mandates that repeat drunk driving offenders, as well as first-time DUI offenders with an injury involved, have the option to install the IID in their vehicle. The timeframe can range from one year to four years, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The courts will have discretion to order a shorter term up to 6 months for first-time DUI drivers with no injuries involved.

The law also allows the DUI offender to receive credit toward their required IID restriction period should they be convicted of a DUI.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

The IID is basically a breathalyzer installed in a vehicle’s steering column that prevents a vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected in the driver’s breath. The driver would not be able to start up the car until they blow into the IID. If alcohol is detected, the vehicle won’t start and the IID requires “rolling” samples every 5 to 15 minutes, and then about every 45 minutes. If a person tries to cheat the system by having a passenger blow into the device, this will be recorded and the driver will lose the privilege of driving again.

Should the breath sample fails during operation of the vehicle, the IID  will record the failed test. The cost to drivers is about $60 to $80 a month plus regular maintenance, testing and calibration is required about every two months.  There is financial assistance available for some low-income drivers.

What Drivers will be Required to have Ignition Interlock Devices?

Most drivers convicted of drunk driving in California will now require an IID restricted license if they want their license back. Here is a chart that shows how long a driver would have to install an IID in their vehicle based on how many convictions a person has:

  • First DUI offense: 6 months
  • Second DUI offense: 1 year
  • Third DUI offense: 2 years
  • Fourth DUI offense: 3 years
  • Subsequent DUI offenses: 3 years

California Personal Injury Attorney

Johnson Attorneys Group has been helping victims of drunk driving recover financial losses in California for more than a decade. Our dedicated attorneys work tirelessly to assist our deserving clients through the complicated legal system. It’s our mission to ensure that you recover all your losses and that justice is served. If you would like to speak with an attorney about a potential case, contact us at 800-235-6801 to request a free consultation. There are no fees unless we recover a financial settlement for you.


James Johnson

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