San Diego

California Pilot Program Aims to Stop Drinking and Driving

Preventing people from driving under the influence is easier said than done, but a pilot program underway in California aims to try. 

The new law requires a DUI offender convicted in criminal court to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on their car for a certain period of time. After that period of time, the driver would then be able to get a restricted license or reinstated license. 

The IID works to help prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel: if the driver's blood-alcohol level is over the legal limit, the car will not start. 

"Hopefully [IID] will eliminate the crime of DUI and people driving under the influence," said California Highway Patrol Officer Josh Nelson.

The law is in effect in several counties including Los Angeles, Alameda, Tulare and Sacramento. 

"San Diego is not one of them. After the pilot program is concluded in Jan 2019, it will be a state wide effort," Nelson said.

The pilot program will continue until 2019 when all data is collected. Then, it will become a statewide requirement. 

Vincent Ross is an attorney with San Diego's DUI Attorney Law Firm. The team deals with approximately 40 new DUI cases a month.

He says interlocks aren't perfect, but more DUI drivers are being ordered to install them in the City of San Diego. It varies from city to city within the County.

"It is unusual say in Vista, or Chula Vista, or El Cajon to have the ignition interlock required, especially on a first time DUI. You see it more frequently on a second or a third," Ross said.

The device is meant to prevent deadly DUI crashes. Just last month, nurse and mother Sarita Shakya was killed in a head-on crash. The other driver, Alexandria Bayne, faces criminal charges on the crash. Bayne has two previous DUI convictions.

Despite her record, Bayne had a valid driver's license at the time of the crash.

"The rules vary on a case by case basis," said attorney Brandon Naidu, with the San Diego DUI Attorney Law Firm. "There are minimum suspension periods depending on whether it's a first offense, second or third offense."

Experts say it is extremely rare for drivers to have their licenses revoked permanently, even with prior DUIs. 

As of 2015, almost 330,000 interlock devices were in use throughout the country.

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