New Law Targets DUI Offenders

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Starting New Years day, a brand new law is in effect that tackles drunk drivers.

It took several recent tragic drunk driving accidents for state legislators to pass a 6-year pilot law that puts tougher restrictions on DUI offenders.

Tulare County is one of seven California counties, and the only one in the Central Valley, participating in the program, which went into effect January 1st.

The new law requires anyone convicted of a DUI in Tulare County to install an ignition interlock device in their cars.

Gil Peirsol, CHP said "many of you have seen the ignition interlock devices which requires you to blow into that ignition interlock device before your vehicle will start."

The device works much like a breathalyzer, only starting the car if the driver blows a clear .00 blood alcohol level.

All those convicted of a DUI, whether it's their first offense or fourth offense, will be required to install one.

A first time offender must have the device in his or her car for five months, a second time offender, longer, and so forth.

"Here in the pilot program and this has been done in several other states-- California is hoping to reduce the reoccurrence of the same people committing DUI over and over again," said Peirsol,

Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia says roughly 15-20% of all patients seen in the ER are there for an alcohol-related trauma or other emergency.

"Highway collisions we see locally are at high rates of speed that have caused major major damage," said Dr. Steve Carstens, Kaweah Delta Medical Center.

Emergency Doctor Steve Carstens knows all too well the tragic medical effects of alcohol abuse and DUI related accidents.

I think the principal is good as far as if we can get our arms around people that are drinking and driving because it is a huge problem in Tulare County at least from an emergency standpoint

If the law proves to significantly lower DUI related accidents and offenses, the pilot law could expand to all California counties.

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