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2019 California Breathalyzer Law

By Newport Beach Personal Injury Attorney on March 22, 2019

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As of January 1, 2019, California expanded the ignition interlock device (IID) program for most drunk driving offenses. The bill makes, statewide, what had previously been part of a 2010 pilot program in four California counties including Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare. Under the new law, if you are convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), you'll have to get an IID installed on your vehicle in order to get your driving privileges reinstated.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)?

An IID acts like a breathalyzer and requires a clean breath to start up the car and continue driving the vehicle and the device is installed on the vehicle steering column. If the driver does not blow an alcohol-free breath into the IID, the car will not start. The IID will also require “rolling” samples every five to 15 minutes and thereafter, about every 45 minutes. If a breath sample fails during operation, it will record the failed test on the device.

The driver is responsible for the cost of installation and maintenance of an IID, which is priced approximately $60 to $80 for monthly maintenance. The driver may have to bring in the device for regular maintenance, testing, and calibration of the device and generally and required service for the device is every 60 days.

What DUI Violations Require an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in California?

Most drunk driving convictions in California will now require an IID to get a license and be able to drive. This includes:

  • First offense DUI: 6-month IID
  • Second offense DUI: 1-year IID
  • Third offense DUI: 2-year IID
  • Fourth or subsequent offense DUI: 3-year IID

Drug DUIs will generally not be eligible for an IID restricted license.

What Does Senate Bill 1046 Mean For California Drivers?

For drivers who can get an IID installed, this new law means most first-time DUI offenders will be able to get their driving privileges back quickly, without having to wait for a mandatory suspension period. By driving with an IID on the vehicle, drivers can get to work, school, or anywhere else as long as they have the equipment installed in the vehicle. This is seen as a way to reduce and prevent further drunk-driving arrests, while still allowing people to go about their daily life.

Under the new law the IID licensing requirements will remain in place until January 1, 2026. Over the next few years, if the program is deemed effective, it may be further extended (like the pilot program has been extended over recent years).

To avoid getting a DUI conviction and having to drive with an IID, and to avoid putting yourself and others at risk of a catastrophic injury, the wise choice is simply not to drink and drive. Our personal attorneys at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie provide reliable legal advice and are here to help you should the need arise. We offer a free consultation, so call us at 949-752-7474 to schedule your free consultation.

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