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California Law Now Requires Installation of Breathalyzers Even For First-Time DUI Offenders
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speak to our DUI defense attorney in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California before it’s too late.
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California Law Now Requires Installation of Breathalyzers Even For First-Time DUI Offenders

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OKABE & HAUSHALTERJan 4, 2019DUI

Do you have at least one DUI conviction on your driving record? Then you are required by California law to install a breathalyzer in your vehicle.

On January 1, 2019, a law requiring DUI offenders to install breathalyzers in vehicles they own or operate became effective in California. The Golden State joined the majority of other states that mandate ignition interlock devices for first-time DUI offenders.

Previously, California law required breathalyzers only for repeat DUI offenders with multiple drunken-driving convictions on their driving record. While researchers and safety advocates are confident that the move will help reduce the number of DUI crashes in California, the new law requiring to install breathalyzers even for first-time offenders also means that our Los Angeles DUI defense attorney will have a lot more work this year.

How California has broken away from five other states?

If you have been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, get used to this annoying thing mounted on the steering wheel in your vehicle… or fight against the allegations by mounting an effective DUI defense (consult with our experienced DUI defense lawyer Los Angeles if you choose the latter).

“What’s the point of installing breathalyzers anyway?” you may be wondering. These ignition interlock devices are designed to prevent drivers with drunken-driving convictions from operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. What a breathalyzer does is prevent your vehicle from starting if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above the state limit, which, in California, is 0.08 percent.

By passing the new law, California has broken away from five other states – Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Montana and Ohio – that still require breathalyzers only for repeat DUI offenders. Thirty-two other states and D.C., on the other hand, require the installation of breathalyzers even for drivers with one DUI conviction.

Requiring breathalyzers for first-time DUI offenders: does it even work?

Do these breathalyzers even make any sense? Is there any use of installing a breathalyzer? “Turns out, there is,” says our Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer at Okabe & Haushalter who has personally reviewed DUI statistics in the U.S.

The vast majority of states have passed a law requiring breathalyzers for first-time offenders in the past 15 years. Since then, the number of fatalities caused by drunk drivers on the roads has dropped to only half of what they were in the early 1980s. But requiring breathalyzers is not the only measure that helped reduce the occurrence of DUI crashes across the nation, as such factors as greater public awareness, enforcement of the seat-belt rule, and dropping the BAC limit from 0.15 to 0.08 percent have also played a major role.

Before the new law became effective on January 1, 2019, California generally relied on driver license’s restrictions and suspensions in order to reduce the number of drunk driving incidents in the state. However, time and time again, drivers with a suspended license continued to drive and cause more motor vehicle accidents while intoxicated.

Do ignition interlock devices actually reduce the number of DUI crashes?

For those of you wondering if breathalyzers make any difference, they do. In the period between 2006 and 2016, ignition interlock devices prevented more than 2.3 million attempts to operate a vehicle by a driver whose blood alcohol concentration was above 0.08 percent.

In addition to that, a study comparing states with laws requiring interlocks for only repeat DUI offenders and states with laws requiring breathalyzers for first-time DUI offenders found that the latter has seen a 15-percent drop in the number of fatalities caused by drivers driving under the influence of alcohol.

Statistics also show that states that passed a law requiring breathalyzers for all DUI offenders have seen fewer DUI-related fatalities than in the years when they did not have such laws. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speak to our DUI defense attorney in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California before it’s too late. Schedule a free consultation by calling our lawyers at Okabe & Haushalter at 310-430-7799.