Will new IID law deter drunk drivers?

California residents may see increased safety on the road with new drunk driving law that expands the use of ignition interlock devices for convicted offenders.

Residents in California have known for a long time now that drinking alcohol and then driving is a dangerous combination. Unfortunately, there remain far too many people willing to ignore this fact. These negligent people continue to grab their keys after drinking, only to put innocent people in harm's way.

Statewide statistics paint a grim picture

Records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration highlight just how serious the ongoing problem of drunk driving is in California. Between 2013 and 2017, the nation saw the percentage of people killed in drunk driving accidents versus all accidents drop from 31 percent to 29 percent. In those same five years, California experienced the opposite trend. In 2013, 28 percent of all accident fatalities in the Golden State were attributed to alcohol. In 2017, 31 percent of all people who died in vehicle crashes were killed by drunk drivers.

Even as the overall number of traffic fatalities declined in California, the percentage of deaths in drunk driving accidents rose. In 2016, 29 percent of the 3,837 people who died were attributed to crashes involving alcohol. The following year, 3,602 deaths were recorded on California roads and highways, 31 percent of which involved alcohol.

San Diego and Riverside County fatalities remain high

In 2013, there were 54 people killed in drunk driving accidents in San Diego County. That number rose first to 55 in 2014, then to 71 in 2015 and then again to 83 in 2016. In 2017, there was only a slight drop to 78 people killed in alcohol-related crashes in the county.

In neighboring Riverside County, 2014 saw a total of 71 drunk driving deaths followed by 76 the next year. In 2016 and 2017, 92 and 95 people, respectively, lost their lives in crashes involving drunk drivers.

New law expands ignition interlock use

As reported by The Sacramento Bee, Californians will be watching to see how a new law that went into effect on New Year's Day 2019 might help the problem of drunk driving deaths in the state.

Now, any person who is convicted of two or more impaired driving offenses may be required to install and use an ignition interlock device for at least one year in order to retain their driving privileges. Some people may be required to use these devices for three years.

Even people convicted of first offenses may be ordered to use IIDs at the judge's discretion or if another person was injured in an accident they caused. Defendants may also elect to use IIDs in order to avoid a year-long license suspension.

Getting help after a drunk driving crash

California is not the only state to crack down on drunk driving in 2019. NBC Los Angeles indicates that Utah has lowered the blood alcohol content threshold for a drunk driving arrest from 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent.

Anyone in California who has been involved in an accident involving an impaired driver should contact an attorney for help seeking compensation and justice.