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

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.

  • Brent

    One wonders whether such devices might not someday be required in all cars:

  • Joseph E

    I had no idea that it was possible to keep your license after 3 DUIs. How many DUIs does it take to lose your license, or do you have to kill people multiple times for that to happen?

    This would be a great opportunity for a “3 strikes, you’re out” law. 3 DUIs = no license for life.

  • Personally, I’d like to see them in every car. I’d also like to see some device that detects the presence of texting behind the wheel and shuts the car down. Or maybe chucks the device out the window.

  • skd

    As a bike rider and pedestrian I agree with this law, and it is sadly overdue.
    Though I also feel that Los Angeles is a city that thrives on its restaurants and bar scenes. The big problem here is not just the drunk driver, this city infrastructure forces you to have a car and then navigate your way home from restaurants and bars. Yeah, we know who is at fault. Big oil and the automobile industry, but it is time to fight back. The city and its people need to demand alternatives to the automobile. I have no problem with people enjoying a glass wine with dinner at a restaurant or catching a couple of drinks after work with their co-workers at a bar. We should encourage this commerce. We should also have a safe and efficient (Subway to the Sea, etc) transit system to get people home from the bar. Stopping drunk drivers is a band-aid on a larger wound. The omnipresent car culture needs to be killed. Everyone should be able to enjoy a couple of beers then not forced to get into a car and drive home. Get cars off the road and you will reduce and maybe eliminate drunk driving in this city.

  • Eric B

    Some of my fondest memories from when I lived in DC are taking WMATA Metro home “impaired” in the wee hours of the morning. To some extent, whether transit runs late enough for that indiscretion is the measure of a thriving city.

  • Gina

    If they don’t combine this with facial recognition technology, as used in laptop computers, then it won’t do much good, anyone can breath into it to start your car for you. I can already see the lines of people outside bars offering to blowstart a car for five bucks! LOL

    It should only work when the owner is looking into a camera with facial recognition software and blows to start the car.

  • My favorite, newly-coined term: blowstart.

    Thanks, Gina!

  • Paul

    I use to work for a company that installed these devices. While someone can blow start a car for the drunk driver, after sometime the device requires another sample of the drivers breath to keep running. If the drive fails the following test, the car basically stalls out. Some new devices even alert the local police.

  • Jay

    People will likely try to start fooling these devices as well. They will have more time to try since the cops are not looking over their shoulder.

  • James K.

    They should require every car to have that device!But what if the passenger is the one who breathes into the device?

    By the way if you guys need computer or laptop repair or data recovery please visit us at 11322 Santa Monica Blvd Los Angeles or call us at (310) 966-9099 or (310) 966-6766. Computer Palace – Sales Service & Repair in Los Angeles

  • mom

    My issue is that I share this vehicle with my son, (the offender).  So I find it crude
    to have to blow into that thing after someone else, related or not.

  • Bodfishsonny

    What is the current breathalyzer law for all of the rest of California?



  • Guest

    What a genuinely smart law. Breathalyzers are dirt cheap electronics or use once apparatus. Everybody knows that the french like to drink red wine. If the car has a seat belt, it has a breathalyzer!. If you get caught with DUI, you will have no excuse. Why did you leave the meter in the glove box and began driving when you know you had drinks. The sad part is that this precedent will probably trigger US Congress to write a law that requires cars have the breathalyzer, but integrated in the car itself, adding some $2000 to the sales price. The US laws appears superficially stupid, but are actually cleverly disguised industrial incentives. The reason for unreasonable US laws always gets passed is the notion that the general public can not be trusted with any responsibility or common sense. Why is it like this? US manufacturer will deliberately lower quality when profit can be increased. When inferior products are exposed to such a large population as 311 million; in 50 states, and 3400 miles wide coast to coast – the certainty of liability lawsuit. A great initiative by the French, that will fail miserably when the US congress makes their own copy..

  • carms

    yep, but they thought of that and it beeps about 8 mins from the first been and every 30 mins after that.

  • carms


  • anonymous

    there is another method that i’m really surprised no one saw or thought of. Finding a friend who never drinks and have him install it in his car for you and give him money for it.

  • tony

    i have a 98 honda civic with a viper auto start alarm and i just got my first dui in la county how much will it cost to install a breathalyzer and how much is it monthly

  • TC

    The registration would have to be in the offender’s name before a breathalyzer would be installed, and the offender must agree to only drive cars that are registered to him / her.



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