Wednesday, May 28, 2008

California DUI breathalyzer in car news

California DUI lawyer news

May 28, 2008

A California DUI law proposal by state Sen. Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach, would require more convicted California DUI - drunk drivers to blow into breathalyzers to start their cars.

Senate Bill 1190 expands judges' authority to require the cell phone-size devices, which can detect alcohol on a driver's breath and disable a car's ignition, as a condition of allowing California DUI offenders back on the road.

California DUI Courts started using the sanction in 1997 against drivers caught with blood-alcohol levels of at least .20.

Oropeza's bill changes that standard to .15, or about five drinks in an hour.

"This lowers the threshold for when judges can require vehicle breathalyzers as punishment for drunken driving," she said.

The California DUI legal limit to drive is .08 for adults above the age of 21.

Judges could continue requiring the devices for up to three years following a California DUI conviction.

Oropeza is targeting California DUI offenders who are driving at nearly twice the legal limit and are statistically more likely to be involved in fatalities.

The California DUI bill won a 37-0 Senate vote last week but also needs Assembly approval to become law.

Oropeza called California among the most lenient of states regarding so-called "extreme drunk drivers," a term used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, in its efforts to convince states to go harder on California DUI offenders.

There appears to be good reason. A driver with a California DUI blood-alcohol level of .15 or greater is at least 20 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a sober driver, according to NHTSA.

About half of all drivers arrested, and half of those convicted for California DUI , are found to have a blood-alcohol level of .15 or greater.

"These drivers are not just making a mistake," Oropeza said. "They are flagrantly endangering themselves and everyone they encounter on the road."

The Association of California Insurance Companies, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the AFL-CIO support the California DUI measure.

There is no stated California DUI opposition.

Driving-related bills

The California DUI drunk-driving measure is among three recent efforts by Oropeza aimed at driver safety.

About two weeks ago, the former Long Beach councilwoman won approval for Senate Bill 1567, which would legalize the use of portable global positioning satellite, or GPS, units to be displayed on dashboards.

If it gets the OK from the Assembly, SB 1567 would allow 7-inch GPS screens on the lower corner of the passenger-side windshield or a 5-inch screen on the driver's side.

Existing law makes it illegal to obstruct the windshield with a few exceptions, such as toll road placards and oil change reminders.

In addition, Oropeza recently introduced a measure that would require rental car companies to provide customers with lists of California driving laws that sometimes differ with other states, such as the ability to turn right on a red light, an aide said Tuesday.

Senators have not yet voted on that measure.

Oropeza made headlines last year for sponsoring a bill that has since made it illegal for drivers to smoke with children in the car.

California DUI attorneys