Tougher Penalties Sought for Drunk Drivers

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mary Klotzbach with the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving is demonstrating what’s called an ignition interlock device.  It’s essentially a breathalyzer that’s linked to a car’s ignition system.

“It’s analyzing my breath. It tells me I passed and what level my alcohol level was.”

The car won’t start if the person’s legally drunk. Mary’s son was hit and killed by a drunk driver in 2001.  She says the device could have kept that driver off the road. 
“If this was available for him to use his car would not have started that night.”

Democratic Assemblyman Mike Feuer has introduced legislation to create pilot programs in four California counties. Those programs  would require installation of the devices on any car operated by someone who’s been convicted of a D.U.I.  That includes first time offenders.  Right now courts have the discretion. The measure’s supporters include Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  National President Laura Dean Mooney points to successful programs in other states. 

 “It is our belief that this pilot program will produce results similar to those experienced in other states—a significant reduction in recidivism and as a result drunk driving fatalities and injuries going down.” 

Offenders would have to pay the costs associated with the devices—including installation which could run as high as 150-dollars and monthly charges of around 75-dollars.  In 2007 the California Highway Patrol made more than 200-thousand arrests for D.U.I.  Nearly 15-hundred people were killed in alcohol-related accidents that year.