Capitol Alert

Bill to install breathalyzers in DUI offenders’ cars goes to Jerry Brown

Nic Reed, regional manager of Ignition Interlock Service Center of California, Inc., demonstrates the device, which DUI offenders will be required to install in their vehicles under Senate Bill 1046.
Nic Reed, regional manager of Ignition Interlock Service Center of California, Inc., demonstrates the device, which DUI offenders will be required to install in their vehicles under Senate Bill 1046. The Sacramento Bee file

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.

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.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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