Last year saw a new law passed that will require most DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock (IID) device on their vehicle, even first-time DUI offenders. The law is scheduled to go into effect in 2019 and it is anticipated that it will decrease the number of drunk drivers on the road. The authors of the new law claim that the current IID pilot program in four California counties prevented over one million drinking and driving incidents in California from 2010-2015. The DMV found that IIDs are far more effective in preventing repeat DUIs than license suspension.

While the law was enacted because it anticipates a decrease of drunk drivers on the road, the new law may make the life of the DUI offender easier in one respect: It will dispense with the mandatory license suspension for DUI offenders.

Under current law, even the first-time DUI offender, in almost all cases, will end up with their license suspended by the DMV. While the driver may be eligible for a restricted license, allowing them limited driving, after serving a period of license suspension, a DUI certainly puts constraints on the offender’s mobility, especially in car-dependent Southern California.

Under the new law, most DUI offenders will be eligible for a restricted license without serving any period of suspension. However, the driver must install a IID on their vehicle in compliance with the law. And while the new law does dispense with a mandatory driver’s license suspension, the suspension period is increased, albeit with the provisions for an immediate stay of the suspension and the issuance of an IID restricted license

Furthermore, the law will also allow some first-time DUI offenders who caused injury to another by their drunk driving to apply for the IID-restricted license without a period of license suspension. Under current law, such an offender is not eligible for a restricted license.

The new law does not terminate license suspension but rather “stays” the suspension (a “soft” suspension), allowing the driver to drive on a restricted license. Under the new law, the hard suspension may be reinstated if the driver is found to have tried to bypass the IID or otherwise tampered with the device. If a driver tries to tamper with an IID, he or she will almost certainly be caught. The devices have multiple detection mechanisms that can catch a person trying to “trick” the device. If caught, an offender who messes with the IID or tries to drive another vehicle (not equipped with the IID) will not only be charged with a separate crime, but will face immediate license suspension and heavy fines.

Installation of IIDs will be required of almost all DUI offenders beginning in 2019. While these offenders will not face the prospect of a “hard” suspension of their driver’s license, the new law has its downsides for the offender. The IID not only requires the driver to blow into the device before starting up the car, but it also requires that at random intervals the driver pull over and blow into the device. And the devices aren’t cheap. Most DUI offenders will have to pay for the device, which will cost around $100 to $150 to have installed and around $50 to $75 a month in operating costs.

No one expects to get a DUI, but it happens. Not all DUI arrests result in a conviction for DUI; there are defenses and/or alternative pleas. William Weinberg has been defending those accused of driving under the influence for nearly 25 years. Contact him for a free consultation regarding your DUI matter at (949) 474-8008 or by emailing him at

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