Anbody seen Blind Date? You know, the 80’s comedy with Kim Bassinger, Bruce Willis, and John Larroquette? The movie was way ahead of it’s time and didn’t do that well at the box, but it’s become a cult classic. If you have seen it, there is a hilarious scene in the movie where on the date from hell the guy can’t start his car without blowing into a breathalyzer first. Really a great way to impress a date. In 1987 when the movie came out it was even funnier because it was the most random thing in the world that somebody would have an actual breathalyzer installed in their steering wheel. Turns out that the movie was ahead of it’s time in more ways than one.
Fast forward to 2011 and the State of California is requiring thousands of California Driver’s to install a breathalyzer in their car for a California first time DUI offense. The device (also known as an IID or Ignition Interlock Device) requires a clean blow before the car will start. California Courts have been ordering them more and more in recent years for driver’s convicted of VC 23152 driving under the influence aka DUI. They are also ordered in many driving on a suspended license cases under VC 14601 even though most of those cases involve no alcohol. In a desperate attempt to do something to stop the amazing number of drunk drivers on California roadways, the new way to be tough on crime is the “in car” breathalyzer. The latest change requires a breathalyzer in the car for a California first time DUI offense!
While I agree 100% that drunk driving is dangerous and efforts must be made to stop it (Call a frickin cab people), the new push towards mandatory breathalyzer’s for a California first time DUI offense is a joke. Like most things involving the government it becomes a complete mess of red tape and inefficiency. When MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) or any other well intentioned group lobbies for stricter DUI rules, politicians seize the opportunity to look like they are doing something about the problem. So please join me in welcoming the future, mandatory breathalyzers for California first time DUI offense in California.
At the moment this law is part of a “pilot program” and only applies to 4 select counties. So if you live in Alameda, Sacramento, Tulare, or Los Angeles you get hit with the new rules. While if you live anywhere else you are immune. How this passes the constitutional requirements of equal protection is beyond me. And if you don’t think there is a financial side to this program consider what a coincidence it is that one of the four counties selected was Los Angeles. If you want volume, LA is where you strike first. It is very likely that the program will expand to all California first time DUI offense recipients as the lobbies continue to push for stiffer penalties and the cash continues to roll in from people trying to get to work on a valid license. Yeah, that sounds fair.
As the DMV rolls out the new plan, they have of course instituted a maze of rules and regulations that almost make it impossible to avoid a significant period without a driver’s license following a first time DUI. While that may not be a bad idea (keeping people convicted of a DUI off the road), it would make much more sense to just lengthen the period of required suspension than to create this breathalyzer circus at the DMV. If anyone wants more information about the program and how to deal with it, I am the proud owner of DL 2011-06 which is an 8 page informational pamphlet from the DMV explaining all the joys of the system. Give me a call or an email and I can shoot you a copy for your viewing pleasure.
If you are facing a California first DUI offense charge in Los Angeles County, beware. A conviction will equal license nightmare and if you think you are getting your license back quickly you are in for a shock. You will not only be required to serve the regular suspension that everyone else does with a California first time DUI offense, you will be forced to comply with the IID rules under the pilot program. It will take weeks or months of hassle, money, and red tape and only then will you be allowed to drive your clients, family, and friends around in your vehicle with a breathalyzer installed. If you are a real estate agent, or anyone else who drives client’s around in your vehicle, kiss your career good bye. While the breathalyzer in the steering wheel was funny in Blind Date, now the jokes is on you if you live in LA.