Californians arrested for driving under the influence will have to temporarily install breathalyzers in their vehicles to get their driver’s licenses back under a measure headed to Gov. Jerry Brown.
The state Senate on Thursday unanimously approved Senate Bill 1046, capping a four-year effort by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, to get a statewide policy on “ignition interlock devices,” which prevent a car’s engine from starting if the driver’s blood alcohol level is above the legal limit.
Starting in 2019, first-time DUI offenders would be required to install an ignition interlock device for six months to reinstate their full driving privileges. The penalty goes up from there: a year for a second offense, two years for a third offense, and three years for a fourth or subsequent offense.
Under current law, drivers convicted of a DUI face a mandatory suspension before they can apply again for a restricted license that allows for driving only to and from work and alcohol treatment programs. SB 1046 would offer first-time offenders who did not injure anyone the option to continue under this model instead with a restricted license for one year.
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On the Senate floor Thursday, Hill praised the policy as a way to “reduce recidivism and save lives.” If signed by Brown, SB 1046 would sunset in 2026.