Los Angeles City Council Approves Resolution Calling for Alcohol Ignition Interlocks

"AB 2784 sends a strong message to convicted offenders that we will not tolerate drunk driving and the bill protects the general public from the reckless behavior of others."

The Los Angeles city council passed a resolution earlier this month in support of lifesaving legislation aimed at keeping drunk drivers off city roads. The measure, Assembly Bill 2784, is sponsored by California State Assembly Member Mike Feuer from Los Angeles and requires the installation of an alcohol ignition interlock on any vehicle owned or operated by a convicted drunk driver.

"As a former LAPD Sergeant, DUI Supervisor, and current Reserve Police Officer, I wholeheartedly support any measure that makes the roads safer for California drivers," Los Angeles city councilman Dennis Zine said. "It is intolerable for any person to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, endangering themselves and other innocent drivers and passengers. AB 2784 sends a strong message to convicted offenders that we will not tolerate drunk driving and the bill protects the general public from the reckless behavior of others."

In 2006, 1,276 Californians were killed in crashes involving a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above .08, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"This action shows that Los Angeles is serious about saving lives through proven technology," said Matthias Mendezona, State Executive Director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) California. "With this kind of commitment and support, we can make California's roads safer."

An alcohol ignition interlock is a breath test device linked to a vehicle's ignition system. Interlocks are used as a condition of probation for convicted drunk drivers after their driver's licenses have been reinstated. When a driver wishes to start his or her vehicle, he or she must first blow into the device, but the vehicle will not start if there is alcohol in the driver's system.

Interlocks are proven to be up to 90 percent effective at preventing convicted drunk drivers from repeating their crimes when installed on the vehicle. However, it is estimated that only one out of eight convicted drunk drivers each year currently has an interlock installed. While current DUI laws in California require ignition interlocks for those convicted of driving on a DUI-suspended driver's license, the use of these lifesaving devices in California is limited and discretionary, MADD noted in a news release.

A hearing on AB 2784 is scheduled in the Senate Committee on Public Safety for June 24th.

States across the country are strengthening their alcohol ignition interlock legislation. During this year's legislative session, six states -- Washington, Nebraska, Alaska, Colorado, Virginia and West Virginia -- passed bills that require a period of alcohol ignition interlock use for convicted drunk drivers. Twelve other states, including California, are considering such legislation.