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What is California’s new interlock ignition law?

Lawmakers in California are attempting to make the roads a safer place by reducing the number of car accidents caused by drunk drivers. According to Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, a new law will take effect on January 1, 2019. This law will offer new guidelines on the use of ignition interlocks in hopes that fewer intoxicated drivers will be allowed on the state’s roads.


While plea agreements will not be required to include the installation of an interlock, judges can order offenders to use them as part of penalties. Users will be required to pay $45 to the Department of Motor Vehicles and any leasing costs for the device in addition to any fees incurred from drunk driving. An indigent fund will be used for violators who have family income levels of up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, with the amount depending on the level in which the income falls.


California drivers will not be ordered to use an interlock device for first-time refusals, but offenses can allow judges to require their use. On the first offense, an ignition can be installed upon arrest. In this case, the offender will be given a choice between having a license suspension for one year or using an ignition interlock for six months. After 30 days, some non-interlock privileges can be offered on certain driving routes.


If the driver is convicted of a second offense, the ignition interlock can be required to be installed for 12 months. This information is intended for your education and should not be taken as legal advice.

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