Sacramento - On Wednesday, the California State Assembly voted 70-0 to send Assemblywoman Sharon Runner's (R-Lancaster) drunk-driving legislation to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for signature.
Runner's Assembly Bill 979 will help keep drunk drivers off the streets by encouraging the installation of ignition interlock devices (IID) in the vehicles of repeat driving under the influence (DUI) offenders.
"Our state must take back its roads and highways and take action to reduce the deadly combination of drinking and driving," said Runner. "The tragedy of drunk-driving is not a partisan issue. I am pleased that my legislation drew bi-partisan support and I will work to maintain this momentum, as there is still much work to be done."
The provisions enacted by Runner's legislation will allow repeat DUI offenders to install IIDs on their cars sooner than law currently permits and allow police to impound any non-IID equipped vehicle driven by an individual with an IID-restricted license. Designed to prevent anyone with a positive blood alcohol content from starting or driving a car, IIDs are one technological advance that has brought a new answer to drinking and driving. In terms of numbers, attaching an interlock to a car ignition for a year, after its operator is convicted of driving while intoxicated, would reduce recidivism by an estimated 75% and alcohol-related fatalities by 7%.
"While significant progress was made in reducing drunk driving during the 1980s and early 1990s, this progress stalled in the mid-1990s. I hope that legislation such as this will renew a trend of declining alcohol-related crashes," said Runner. Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that, in 2003 alone, alcohol related crashes took the lives of 1,626 Californians – 39% of total traffic deaths.