SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — One California lawmaker is looking to crackdown on drunk drivers. State Sen. Jerry Hill wants every convicted drunk driver to have a breathalyzer-like device installed in their car.
“This would physically stop anyone from drinking and driving,” said Aaron Wade, Program Manager for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
If it detects any alcohol at all, the car won’t start. It’s called an ignition interlock device, or IID for short. A pilot program started back in 2010 in four counties across the state, including Sacramento County. In the last five years, these devices have stopped more than one million attempts to drink and drive.
“Drunk driving is across the board,” said Judy Utter, Victim Specialist with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “It’s in every county in California. The tragedy is that it’s so preventable and it happens so often.”
Depending on the number of convictions, a driver would be required to have the IID in their vehicle anywhere between five months and three years.
“It’s not about preventing drinking, it’s being responsible after you’ve consumed a drink to make sure you’re not going to be driving that car,” Utter said.
After losing her daughter in a drunk driving accident in 1990, she has become an advocate for legislation cracking down on drunk drivers.
She said an ignition interlock device might save another mother from going through the same thing.
“Once your child is killed or has a serious injury, lives are changed forever,” Utter said. “There is no fixing it.”
With an IID installed, a driver would still be able to drive themselves to work. And instead of driving illegally on a suspended license, police would be able to keep track of that driver.
“At least six months with this ignition interlock will allow that behavior to change,” Utter said.
“The ignition interlock has stopped 125,000 individual times, someone from drinking and driving,” Wade said.
Cesar Morales has been convicted of two DUIs and has been using an IID for the last 4 months. Still, he believes that making the devices mandatory isn’t going to change a driver’s behavior.
“If you want to stop drinking or start drinking, it is up to you,” he said. “If you don’t, you don’t.”
The interlock devices cost around three dollars a day and there would be no cost to taxpayers. The cost would be the responsibility of the offender.
On Tuesday, the Senate Public Safety Committee is going to take a look at the bill for the first time. If passed, the law would affect drivers in all 58 counties in the state.