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SB 61 Extends DMV Ignition Interlock Device Pilot Program

Posted on in DUI

Senate Bill No. 61 effectively extended DMV’s pilot Ignition Interlock Device program for Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare counties. The program was set to be repealed as of January 1, 2016. The bill extends the operation of the program to July 1, 2017. The pilot program extended by SB 61 “requires, as a condition of being issued a restricted driver’s license, being reissued a driver’s license, or having the privilege to operate a motor vehicle reinstated subsequent to a conviction for any violation of the above offenses, a person to install for a specified period of time an ignition interlock device on all vehicles he or she owns or operates.”

For the past few years there have been pilot programs for the ignition interlock device or IID, including Alameda county. These programs require the installation of an IID even upon a conviction for a first-time offense. Such a device must be installed on any vehicle that the defendant owns or drives and requires that he or she blow into the machine before starting the vehicle. The purpose of the device is to prohibit and discourage drunk driving, or in the case of the ignition interlock device, prohibit driving with any measurable amount of alcohol. Many counties require the installation of an IID on a third or even sometimes second offense, but it is mandatory for a first offense in the pilot counties. The DMV will require it for up to two years on a second and third offense.

However, earlier this year the Department of Motor Vehicles released a study where they concluded that there were no real changes in the volume of first, second and third time DUI violations post implementation of the pilot programs. In fact the DMV concluded that the DUI rates were nominally the same in those counties pre-implementation. Thus imposing an installation of an IID has little deterrent effect, which is the real purpose of the program and the device. So in other words, even where there is a dramatic increase in the use and installation of ignition interlock devices on first offenders, there is no associated reduction in the number of first and repeat offenses.

The real focus should be on science and evidence-based sentencing, which points to rehabilitation and alcohol treatment, as opposed to long jail sentences or IIDs. The root cause of repeat offenses is addiction, which can’t be cured by punishment or pre-emptive sentencing. We need to be creative in crafting sentences that has addiction treatment at the center. This is why I favor electronic monitoring which serves as punishment (a jail sentence) but also allows the defendant to pursue treatment. This is the best way to reduce the number of repeat offenses, which the stats bear out. So it really makes little sense to spend more money to expand the Ignition Interlock Device program, which seems more like bending to certain special interest groups than real DUI prevention.

If you have been arrested for DUI it is important that you know your rights. Call the Law Offices of Erik Steven Johnson for a free consultation at 408-246-3004. We represent clients facing driving under the influence charges in Santa Clara County and the surrounding Bay Area.

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