Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed two bills this week, that will toughen penalties for DUI offenders in some cities. According to one of the bills, a pilot program will be launched in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare, that will require people convicted of driving under the influence to install ignition interlock devices in their cars. These devices would require the driver to breathe into a tube on the device, which would test the driver’s blood alcohol level. The car would not start if the driver had a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher.
The other bill will allow repeat DUI offenders to apply for a restricted license if they install the ignition interlock device. About 50-75% of people who get their licenses revoked for a DUI, still drive, so this would make it easier for them to get a license and would give them an incentive to use the new device.
In New Mexico, this program has been implemented since 2003 and they have noticed a 22% decrease in alcohol related fatalities. Proponents say this will be the same result in California. Opponents question the effectiveness of the devices. I think this is a great way to reduce repeat offenders from driving while intoxicated, but I too question the effectiveness and the false positives that could result from the device.