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New DUI Law Requires Breathalyzers in Vehicles for Offenders in L.A.

3:00 PM PDT on June 15, 2010

6_15_10_cbs.jpgAn Early Show correspondent demonstrates

It's nice to see a story about DUI laws that don't involve a celebrity and an ankle bracelet.

Starting next month, Los Angeles will be one of four counties to require all licensed drivers found guilty of a DUI to have a breathalyzer placed in their vehicles.  If a driver breathes into the breathalyzer and has alcohol on their breath, their car won't start.  The pilot program will last five years and will track whether or not the devices have an impact in reducing the number of drunk drivers that are repeat offenders. While courts may order entering a California alcohol treatment rehab program, completing the program does not get the breathalyzer out of the car.

Not surprisingly, not everyone is happy with the new law, and don't mind speaking out for the rights of drunk drivers. Mercifully, the opposition does not include AAA, but does include restaurant associations and defense lawyers. The Sacramento Bee reports,

"With this law, you are going to have the occasional drinker who had a half glass of wine too much" and who is unlikely to reoffend, said Ignacio Hernandez, a lobbyist for California DUI lawyers.

He warned the technology could have glitches that cause false positive readings.

It's just amazing that anyone could actually argue that it's too much to require a breathalyzer for less than half-a-year for a drunk driver. Later in the same article it discuses a program to help cut the cost of the breathalyzer, $75 for installation and $50 a month for monitoring the system, for low income people. The owner of a breathalyzer company wonders about people that can afford cars and to get drunk, but not the cost of the monitoring system.

For a first offense, a driver must have the breathalyzer lock installed for five months. For a second offender, a year. For a third time offender, two years. That's right, the lobbyist for the DUI Lawyers Association thinks a law that allows someone to have three DUI's and still drive on the road is somehow unfair to the offender.

The legislation was authored by Westside Assemblyman Mike Feuer, who also authored the legislation that created Measure R, and was signed by Governor Schwarzenegger earlier this year.  Unless renewed, the legislation will expire in 2015.

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