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Just Breathe To Drive

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Sacramento, CA — A simple breath could result in a vehicle locking down, and in turn, stopping a drunk driver from traveling Mother Lode roadways.

Under a newly proposed bill, all California drivers convicted of DUI must install an Ignition Interlock Device on their vehicles.  The device connects to the ignition and a breath is required to start the engine.  If the driver’s blood alcohol registers above the legal limit, the vehicle will not start.

San Francisco area State Senator Jerry Hill has introduced the bill.  He says each year drunk drivers kill more than 1,000 Californians and over 20,000 are injured.  “After a first DUI conviction you would be required to have the device for six months to make sure that your behavior has changed…Second offense it goes to a year, third offense it stretches out to a number of years,” explains Hill.

Currently under California law, the device is optional with only about 20% choosing to install it.  One concern is that not everyone can afford the device and installation, which costs about $150 with a $50 monthly maintenance fee.  For that reason, the bill stipulates a device will be provided to anyone who cannot pay for it. Another concern is that someone else could simply breathe into the device.  “The way it gets around having your friend blow into it to start your car is that it randomly calls for you to blow into the device as you drive.  It won’t stop the car, but the information is recorded and sent on to the judge for further punishment if alcohol is detected,” counters Hill.

Similar laws are in effect in 24 other states and have reduced deaths in those states by anywhere from 30 to 40%, according to Hill.  The bill would be up for review within five years.