Sacramento County piloting ignition interlock device program

Drunk driving is a serious problem in California and across the United States. In 2012 alone, drunk drivers took the lives of 802 people statewide, a 3.6 percent increase from the year before, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. That same year, 10,322 people were killed and 345,000 people were injured in drunk driving accidents across the country. In an attempt to lower the number of drunk driving accidents, injuries and deaths, California is piloting an ignition interlock device program in four counties, including Sacramento, Alameda, Tulare and Los Angeles.

What is the ignition interlock device program?

People who are convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol in Sacramento County are required to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle, even if they are a first-time offender, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Before the IID pilot program, interlock devices were ordered according to the judge's discretion. While judges were encouraged to carefully consider ordering interlock devices in DUI cases involving offenders with blood alcohol content levels of 0.15 percent or higher, there was no standardized procedure for this process. The IID pilot program is scheduled to expire at the end of 2015, at which time state officials will determine whether to adopt the program statewide.

Do interlock devices work to curb drunk drivers?

Interlock devices have proven to be effective in keeping drunk drivers off of the streets. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these small breath test analyzers can reduce the DUI recidivism rate by 67 percent. Currently, there are 24 states in the nation that require IID use for all convicted drunk drivers, and many of those states have seen a significant decrease in the DUI fatality rate. For example, since enacting the IID program, Arizona has seen a 43 percent decline in DUI fatalities, and Utah has had a 30 percent reduction in deaths. Oregon, New Mexico, Alaska, Colorado, Louisiana, West Virginia, Washington and Kansas have also had favorable results.

One of the reasons why interlock devices are so successful is that they make it impossible for an intoxicated driver to operate his or her vehicle. The car simply won't turn on unless the driver submits a clean breath sample with a BAC measuring less than the preset limit, according to the Century Council. While DUI offenders who have suspended driver's licenses may continue to drive illegally, interlock devices take away that opportunity for drunk drivers.

Contact an attorney

People who choose to drive while intoxicated should be held responsible for their negligent actions. If you have been involved in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, it is crucial that you take immediate action. A personal injury attorney can help you explore your legal options and walk you through the process. Not only can you receive compensation for your injuries, lost wages and property damage, but you are helping to remove another drunk driver from the streets.