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New California law requires ignition interlock devices

It’s a new year in California, and that is bringing some new laws. After another year including stories of people injured or killed on the road, one law is trying to make it harder for some drivers who have shown some lack of responsibility.

Sacramento began enforcing a new law in 2019 that changes driving for people who have been arrested for and convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol. New technology combines a Breathalyzer, a device for detecting alcohol on a person’s breath, with a governor for a car’s ignition, so drivers must pass an automated breath test before using the vehicle.

Ignition interlock devices for cars may also require a random breath test at various times while a person is driving. The piece of technology, about the size of a cellphone, is monitored for violations. Immediate failures of the breath test lock the ignition of the car, so it will not start.

Judges in California have been able to order ignition interlocks for cars driven by past DUI convicts since the 1990s, but the new law eases, and in some cases, mandates their use. Any second DUI offense will require a device for at least a year, with those requirements increasing with further offenses.

No device is perfect, and first-time DUI drivers can also cause damage or injury. Victims of car accidents and the survivors of car accident victims including drunk driving may have a case for financial damages, such as reimbursement for related expenses and compensation for pain and emotional distress. An attorney can help victims and their families sort out the best options after a tragic accident.