Tulare County Tests Ignition Devices for DUI Drivers

October 12, 2009 9:52:34 PM PDT
Drunk driving offenders will soon have a harder time getting behind the wheel after having too much to drink in Tulare County.Visalia Police officers often use a breathalyzer test to determine if drivers have had too much to drink. The police department says drunk driving accidents are the most common type of injury traffic collisions in the city. That's why Officer Jacob Heaton says a new bill signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger this weekend is a good one.

Officer Heaton said, "Usually someone who has been arrested for a DUI in the past usually they are going to do it again so this will prevent from recurring DUIs and arrests."

The new law requires any person convicted of their first DUI offense to install what's called an "Ignition Interlock Device" on their car. The special breathalyzer is connected to a vehicle's ignition system.

"Every time they get in to start the vehicle, prior to starting it they have to blow into a device similar to this machine which will then read their blood alcohol content and determine whether or not they've been drinking and if they haven't then they're allowed to start the car," said Officer Heaton.

The law is being tested in Tulare and three other California counties with an unusually high percentage of drunk driving incidents.

Assistant District Attorney Shani Jenkins said, "If you're looking at other counties the same size as Tulare County such as Monterey County we're up twice as many fatalities as a result of DUI accidents."

In fact, in 2007, Tulare County had 38 DUI-related fatal accidents-- while Monterey County had 14. Shani Jenkins hopes this new law will force people to take driving drunk-- more serious. Jenkins said, "People say it's just a misdemeanor or I just had 1 or 2 drinks but we are losing too many people as a result of DUI accidents so I think this law is really going to make people think twice about getting in the car.

The court will begin enforcing the new law on July 1st, 2010.

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