San Diego

DUI Offenders Required to Use Breathalyzer to Start Engine in 2019

These regulations apply to DUI infractions involving alcohol consumption or the combined use of alcohol and drugs

A new DUI prevention law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019 that will require convicted drunk drivers to install a breathalyzer-connected device to their vehicles.

The ignition interlock device connects to a breathalyzer and will prevent a car from starting if a convicted drunk driver is intoxicated, according to the law. 

"This device measures the alcohol in the driver's breath. It will prevent the vehicle from starting unless the driver is sober," Assemblymember Todd Gloria said. 

A DUI offender, who will be required to sustain the approximately $3 a day cost of the device, will not be able to retain their driving privileges without using the ignition interlock for a period of 12 to 48 months. 

These regulations apply to DUI infractions involving alcohol consumption or the combined use of alcohol and drugs.

First offenders who don't cause any injuries can choose six months of the ignition interlock or a restricted license for one year. Second offenders and first offenders who injure others are both mandated to use the device for one year. For three-time offenders, the device is mandatory for two years, while four-or-more-time offenders must use the device for three years.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 1046, authored by State Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), into law in 2016 after it passed through the state legislature with bipartisan support; the ignition interlock bill did not receive any "no" votes. 

A four-state pilot program followed to test device and its efficiency, which resulted in a 74 percent decrease in DUI recidivism and was ultimately why the law was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, according to Gloria. 

Lawmakers and enforcement officers in San Diego used the upcoming New Year's Eve holiday to remind drivers of the new law and to encourage drivers not to drink and drive while celebrating. 

"The offender makes the decision whether to drive or not, so any decision that will make that decision for them, to me, is a great device that will help support our roadways being safe," San Diego Police Department Chief David Nisleit said. 

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