A pilot program approved by the California State Assembly will place ignition interlock devices in the vehicles of all individuals convicted of drunk driving in four counties, regardless of level of intoxication or number of previous offenses. If signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the plan calls for the pilot to begin in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare counties in July 2010 and run until July 2016, when it will become a statewide mandate.
The news from California comes on the heels of an announcement by Toyota Motor Corp. (TMC) and Hino Motors of a joint test in Japan of a breathalyzer ignition interlock technology TMC is developing. The device is installed on select Japanese transport company fleet vehicles, and the test runs through Nov. 30. The test involves a handheld breathalyzer installed in the vehicle along with a digital camera to verify the test-taker’s identity.
The American Beverage Institute, the Washington, D.C.-based on-premise industry association, contends that this test is yet another step toward normalizing ignition interlock systems. ABI anticipates the installation of ignition interlocks in fleet vehicles in the U.S. within three years. As consumers become accustomed to the technology in fleet vehicles such as rental cars or corporate cars, it will ultimately lead to the technology being installed as standard equipment on all vehicles at the time of purchase. Universal ignition interlock will severely impact the on-premise industry, while not addressing the real perpetrators of drunk driving fatalities, the repeat offender with high blood alcohol concentration (BAC), according to ABI.
Editor’s Note: Ignition interlock is a crucial issue for anyone with a license to sell beverage alcohol in a bar, restaurant or nightclub. Visit www.abionline.org or www.interlockfacts.com for more information from ABI.