New Interlock Requirements to Take Effect January 2019 in DUI Cases – The Good News and Bad News

As of September 28, 2016, Governor Brown approved a new regime governing restricted licenses in DUI cases. Currently, for a first time DUI, there is a mandatory “hard” suspension period of 30 days, after which the driver can apply for a restricted license if they: (1) Show proof of SR-22 insurance; (2) Pay an administrative fee to DMV of $125.00; and (3) Sign-up for the 90-day DUI program. The restricted license as it stands now only let’s you drive to work, during work, and to the DUI program – you cannot drive anywhere else that may be essential to daily life, such as the supermarket, church/temple, or even the doctor’s office. If convicted of the DUI in Court, the restriction lasts five months, whereas if the suspension is by the DMV only, the restriction lasts a period of four months.

The new bill, codified under SB 1046, would eliminate the restriction for first-time offenders to only drive to and during work, and to the DUI program, and allow the driver to drive anywhere. Also, the 30-day “hard suspension” would not be required, and the driver could keep their license without any suspension period.This is great news for those who wish to drive without any suspension period, and without restriction, after suffering the devastating collateral repercussions caused by a DUI arrest, which include increased insurance, fees to take one’s car out of impound, and the grief that can be associated with being charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense.

The catch: The new law driver would have to install the Ignition Interlock Device in their vehicle during the restriction period.The Ignition Interlock Device requires the driver to blow into the device before starting the vehicle, and intermittently “beeps” requiring the driver to blow while driving. It costs between $60.00-$80.00 a month to maintain, and false positives can register (for instance, mouthwash). As a result, the interlock requirements of the new bill will be expensive and cumbersome for most.

As the Legislative Digest to the Bill explains:

     Effective January 1, 2019, and until January 1, 2026, the bill would make an individual whose license has been suspended for driving a motor vehicle when he or she has a certain blood-alcohol concentration and who is eligible for a restricted driver’s license eligible for a restricted driver’s license without serving any period of the suspension if the person meets all other eligibility requirements and the person installs an ignition interlock device. The bill would authorize that individual to install an ignition interlock device prior to the effective date of the suspension and would require the individual to receive credit towards the mandatory term to install an ignition interlock device, as specified. The bill would require the department to immediately reinstate the suspension of the privilege to operate a motor vehicle upon receipt of notification that a person has engaged in certain activities, including, among others, attempted to remove, bypass, or tamper with the ignition interlock device.
     The bill would also require, commencing January 1, 2019, and until January 1, 2026, a person who has been convicted of driving a motor vehicle under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, as specified, to install for a specified period of time an ignition interlock device on the vehicle, as ordered by the court, that is the vehicle that he or she operates. The bill would, commencing January 1, 2019, and until January 1, 2026, also authorize a person convicted of driving a motor vehicle under the influence, including a person who was convicted of a first offense of driving a motor vehicle under the influence, with injury, if all other requirements are satisfied, including the installation of an ignition interlock device, to apply for a restricted driver’s license without completing a period of license suspension or revocation. The bill would require the department to, if a person maintains an ignition interlock device for the specified required time, reinstate the person’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle at the time the other reinstatement requirements are satisfied. The bill would, commencing January 1, 2019, and until January 1, 2026, authorize a court to require a person convicted of a specified type of reckless driving to install a certified ignition interlock device on any vehicle that the person operates and prohibit that person from operating a motor vehicle unless that vehicle is equipped with a functioning, certified ignition interlock device for a specified period of time. The bill would require the Transportation Agency to issue a report to the Legislature by January 1, 2025, regarding the implementation and efficacy of these provisions. The bill would reinstate current law as described above as of January 1, 2026.
Thus, there will be advantages, as well as many drawbacks, to the implementation of SB-1046 in the coming year 2019.
     At Honeychurch & Boyd, we have defended drivers accused of DUI offenses navigate the complexities of the DMV and Court procedures since 1978. We can assist not in achieving the best results for your criminal case, but also with the DMV penalties associated with DUI that are wholly separate from the Court process. If you are facing DUI charges and were arrested in the Solano County communities of Fairfield, Green Valley, Vacaville, Benicia, Vallejo, Dixon, or Rio Vista, or anywhere in  Napa and Yolo Counties, and want an attorney with the experience and advocacy you can trust, call our office today at 707-429-3111 to schedule a free consultation.