Convicted drunken drivers in four California counties will have to test their breath for alcohol before they can start their vehicles under a pilot program beginning next month, reports the Associated Press. A bill signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger last fall requires drivers with DUI convictions to install dashboard testing devices that would prevent their car engines from starting if alcohol is detected. The law goes into effect July 1 in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare counties. The Legislature may expand the requirement statewide if it is judged successful.
The devices require drivers to breath into a tube to start their vehicles and at random intervals while driving. Under the program, first-time offenders will be required to use the ignition locking device for five months, or one year if they injured someone while driving drunk. A second offense would require using the device for a year and two years of monitoring would be required for a third offense. Fourteen states have similar laws for first-time offenders. Convicted drivers are expected to pay for the device installation and its monthly rental fees, although manufacturers will be expected to subsidize most of the cost for drivers on low incomes.