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California’s new DUI law – how does it affect you?

The new year brought a slew of changes to California’s DUI laws that all drivers should understand. Most of the changes were driven by requests the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, who believed that better road safety could result from reforms to sentencing.

Nearly all of the changes are related to Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) and how they are currently employed by the courts. These devices are installed into vehicles to prevent it from moving until the driver has passed a breathalyzer test.

In addition to preventing the vehicle from moving, the device constantly collects data when in use. This data can be provided to the courts to determine how seriously the driver is taking the new restrictions that have been imposed.

The device must be installed by a professional, and there are monthly fees to cover the cost of monitoring its operation with software. The DUI offender is responsible for both expenses.  

IIDs have become increasingly popular as a sentencing tool in nearly every state. Now, they may become used in almost every DUI case in California. So what are these changes? Here’s everything you need to know to stay on the right side of the latest DUI laws in California.

 

IIDs are now mandatory for repeat DUI offenders

Judges in California will no longer have any discretion over whether repeat DUI offenders are sentenced to Ignition interlock devices. Instead, installing the devices will be a mandatory part of the sentence of every repeat offender.

The devices are mandated to remain installed for as long as 4 years, at the expense of the driver. Judges will still have discretion over how long the devices must be used, but can no longer sentence repeat offenders to less than one year.

Judges have gained new authority to sentence first-time offenders who did not injure anyone to install an IID. These sentences are limited to 6 months. In these situations, the judge still has the discretion, but now anyone who is convicted of a DUI for any reason can feasibly be ordered to use one.     

 

IIDs are now mandatory for first-time DUI offenders who injure others

Even first-time offenders must be sentenced to install an interlock device if they injure someone as a result of their drunk driving. As in the first case, the judge will have discretion over how long they must keep the device installed. In these cases though, it’s unlikely that most of those convicted will be able to walk away with only a year. They will likely face the full sentence of up to 48 months.

 

Those with suspended licenses may now apply for IID-restricted driving privileges

This final provision allows for leniency instead of a harsher sentence. Those who have had their licenses suspended may be allowed to apply for a restricted license that allows them to drive only after they have installed an interlock device. In most cases, those who qualify will only be allowed to drive to their jobs or to DUI treatment programs.

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