SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The suspect accused of drunk driving and causing a wreck that killed a nine-year-old boy went to court Tuesday afternoon.
Police say 27-year-old Rene Zaragoza ran a red light and crashed into a family’s car early Sunday morning in the Arden-Arcade area. Zaragoza reportedly drove away from the scene, leaving the boy dead and his mother critically hurt.
He was later arrested at his home. Police revealed Zaragoza was required by law to have an ignition interlock device in his car but did not have one in the car he was driving. He was convicted of drunk driving in 2013.
It’s something authorities say happens all the time, so how can so many convicted drunk drivers just ignore California’s ignition interlock law?
An interlock device is a breathalyzer wired to a car’s ignition. It detects if there’s alcohol on a driver’s breath and the vehicle won’t start if there is. The Department of Motor Vehicles said it’s up to a driver to get the device installed after a court orders them to drive under a restricted license.
“If they don’t apply for the restriction there wouldn’t be any way to know of that other than their license would be suspended and again they still couldn’t drive legally,” said Marty Greenstein, a DMV spokesperson.
The problem is that so many drivers convicted of driving under the influence do not get the devices installed and just keep driving.
Authorities often do not learn a driver is breaking the rules until they are arrested for another violation.
Rhonda Campbell with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) says someone needs to make sure convicted drunk drivers actually do what the law requires. When she was 15, a drunk driver killed her 12-year-old sister.
“A repeat offender on a suspended license ran a stop sign, hit the car she was riding in head-on killed my sister, killed the driver of the car,” Campbell said.
“My position on that was, had he been required to use an IDD, maybe my sister would be here today.”
MADD wants California to get tougher on convicted drunk drivers. The group is pushing for a new law requiring ignition interlock devices to be installed in the cars of everyone convicted of driving under the influence, including people arrested for their first offense.