Legislation to require drunken driving offenders to install blood alcohol level testing equipment in their vehicles after a second conviction is slated to be introduced by state Sen. Jerry Hill today.

"The law is so in favor of repeat DUI (driving under the influence) offenders," said Hill during a phone interview Thursday.

In 2010 when he was an assemblyman, Hill authored AB 1601, which authorized judges in California to revoke licenses for repeat DUI offenders for up to 10 years. The law went into effect Jan. 1.

According to Hill's office, there were 161,074 DUI convictions in California in 2009, the most recent year for which statewide data is available. Of those convictions, 27 percent, or 43,432, were for repeat offenders.

"This (new) bill is sort of a follow-up to that effort to do something about the staggering numbers, the 40,000 annually repeat DUI offenders," Hill said.

Under current state law, a repeat offender has the option of shortening their driver's license suspension or revocation after one year if they agree to install an "ignition interlock device," or IID, which connects to the vehicle's ignition and requires a breath sample before the engine will start.

Hill's law would require all individuals convicted of a second DUI offense to use the device for one year before full driving privileges are restored.


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At least 24 states currently require ignition interlock devices for repeat DUI offenders, and 17 for first-time convictions, according to Hill's office. Earlier this month, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that all states require the devices for those convicted of drunken driving.

Under Hill's legislation, the offender would be responsible for the cost of the ignition interlock device -- which includes installation and monthly maintenance -- although there are provisions in the bill that would require the providing company to subsidize some of the costs for low-income individuals. Installation can typically cost from $50 to $200, and monthly rental fees range from $50 to $100, according to information provided by Hill's office.

Donald Bartell, the president of the California DUI Lawyers Association, said Thursday while he had not seen Hill's legislation, he had concerns after just hearing about it, including the expense of the equipment and if other family members would have to use the device if the vehicle was shared.

"There seems to be an unending sea of encumbrances for people arrested for DUI," Bartell said.

People who drive impaired should face consequences, Bartell said, but the punishment should be measured to the crime.

"We don't want people to drink and drive, but the question is, 'What is the appropriate punishment?'" he said.

Email Bonnie Eslinger at beslinger@dailynewsgroup.com; follow her at twitter.com/bonnieeslinger.