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CA DMV Study Shows IID Pilot Program Not A General Drunk Driving Deterrent

Currently, there are four counties in California that are participating in the ignition interlock device, IID, pilot program:  Los Angeles, Alameda, Tulare, and Sacramento, per California Vehicle Code Section 23700.  The pilot program requires all driving under the influence, DUI, defendants, including first time offenders, to pay for, install, and then maintain the IID for a period of time as determined by the number of drunk driving convictions the individual has.

An IID is a breathalyzer instrument that is professionally installed in the defendant’s vehicle by a court-approved company.  The driver must blow into the device, providing an alcohol-free sample.  If alcohol is detected, the car will not start.  Once started, the driver will be prompted to give another sample within 15-minutes of driving and then again about every 45-minutes.  If alcohol is detected during a random sample, the car will stall and become inoperable.  These are referred to as “sample failures” and are reported to the court.

Recently, the Department of Motor Vehicles released its report to the Legislature of the State of California of its findings regarding the “General Deterrent Evaluation of the Ignition Interlock Pilot Program in California.”  According to this sixty page report, the DMV study found “the IID pilot program was not associated with a reduction in the number of first-time and repeat DUI convictions in the pilot counties.  In other words, no evidence was found that the pilot program has a general deterrence effect.”  (See “Report Documentation Page.”)

However, the report mentioned another follow-up study that is being conducted to determine if the pilot program has any specific deterrence effects.”  The specific deterrent effects address the “specific behavior of individual drivers who were convicted of DUI subsequent to the implementation of the … law and thus were subject to the IID pilot program requirements…” (See page ix.)

The DMV recommended that the legislature consider the specific deterrence evaluation if/when they take any further action regarding the IID program.  That follow-up study is due to be completed in the fall of 2015.  (See ix and x.)

The Law Offices of Susan L. Hartman recently blogged about California State Senator Jerry Hill’s bill, SB 61.  If passed, this bill would require all those convicted of drunk driving, in all California counties, to install an IID.  Senator Hill’s position is that mandatory IID requirements reduce recidivism and first time DUI offenders, just the opposite of what the DMV’s own study found.