Today, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 1046, which requires the implementation of ignition interlock devices (IIDs) for low blood alcohol content (BAC) and first-time DUI offenders.

Sarah Longwell, managing director of the American Beverage Institute, released the following statement:

While the American Beverage Institute supports mandated ignition interlocks for high-BAC and repeat offenders, we do not support the bill that Gov. Brown signed into law today which expands the mandate to first time and low-blood alcohol content (BAC) offenders. In doing so, Governor Brown ignores the California Department of Motor Vehicle’s evaluation of the pilot program, which recommended against expanding the ignition interlock mandate statewide. The recommendation not to expand the program was due, in part, to the finding that ignition interlocks increase the likelihood of a traffic accident by between 6 and 16 percent because they distract drivers.  Furthermore, the California DMV concluded that the “program does not appear to be associated with a reduction in the number of first-time or repeat DUI convictions.”  Rather than a counterproductive mandate on moderate offenders, California should focus on increasing ignition interlock compliance rates among hardcore offenders who cause the vast majority of alcohol-related traffic fatalities.

Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that only 15 to 20 percent of offenders actually install the devices when mandated. The resources required to ensure compliance of ever-expanding interlock mandates may not be welcomed by California taxpayers.

Targeting DUI offenders with one-size-fits-all legislation is a wrongheaded approach and misuse of resources. Lawmakers should focus on hardcore drunk drivers by concentrating on the enforcement of existing laws.

Get ABI Email Updates

Sign up and get updates on the critical updates on alcohol policy that affect your business.