CHP Commissioner & MADD National CEO Support Anti-Drunk Driving Legislation

California Political Desk
April 10, 2008

LOS ANGELES, CA- Assemblymember Mike Feuer was joined by California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow and MADD National CEO Chuck Hurley to support critical anti-drunk driving legislation than reduce the number of drunk driving deaths on California’s roadways. AB 2784 (Feuer) would require all convicted drunk drivers, including first-time offenders, to install ignition interlock devices (IIDs) on their vehicles. Following the news conference there was a live demonstration of the technology.

An IID is a breath test device linked to a vehicle’s ignition system. When a driver wishes to start his or her vehicle, he or she must first blow into the device, but the vehicle will not start unless the driver’s alcohol level is below the limit of .08.

“The development of the ignition interlock device has made drunk driving increasingly preventable,” said Assemblymember Feuer. “California must become a national leader in the fight against drunk driving by passing comprehensive interlock legislation.”

In 2006, drunk drivers killed nearly 1,300 people in California. IIDs are proven to save lives, but it is estimated that only one out of eight convicted drunk drivers each year currently has an interlock on their vehicle. While current DUI laws in California require IIDs for those convicted of driving on a DUI-suspended license, the use of these lifesaving devices in California is limited and discretionary.

“Far too often, law enforcement officers stop DUI drivers only to learn it’s not their first offense. It’s time we stop this cycle,” said California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Ignition interlock devices will prevent drivers from starting a car if they have any measurable amount of alcohol in their system. By preventing drunk drivers from getting on the road, we know we can save innocent people from being injured or killed.”

Four states, including New Mexico, Arizona, Illinois, have already passed legislation that requires IIDs for all convicted drunk drivers – and twelve more states are considering similar legislation this year’s legislative session. In New Mexico, there has already been a 25 percent decrease in fatalities from drunk driving since its IID law was implemented just a few years ago.

“We know that this technology works,” said Chuck Hurley, National CEO of MADD. “Now we need to implement these advances on our roads, every day in every state across the nation. Too many drunk driving offenders are back on the road, and it is our duty to ensure that they do not risk the lives of others and that they only drive while sober.”

AB 2784 passed out of the Assembly Public Safety Committee yesterday with a vote of 6:1. It will be heard next in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.