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Calif. to test drunken driving monitor

October 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a new law making it harder for convicted drunk drivers to get behind the wheel in California.It requires first-time DUI offenders to have an ignition interlock device on their cars.

This device is called Smart Start, and if you've consumed even a small amount of alcohol, it'll detect it and keep you from starting your vehicle.

For first time starting next summer, DUI offenders will be required to pay to have this device installed in their vehicle.

"You blow into it, if you pass, if you don't have alcohol in there it tells you 'pass' and you can start the vehicle. However, if you have alcohol it says 'violations.' Then it counts down to 60 seconds and it will ask you again to blow into it," explained Luis Cuenca of Just Audio and Alarms.

People may think to have a friend who hasn't been drinking blow into the device, pass, and get the car started. The device will work that way, but down the road, you'll still have to blow into it a second time.

"It could be every five minutes, could be ten minutes, and it asks you to blow back into it," said Cuenca.

After a few violation readings and you've stopped your car, it will not restart. The California Highway Patrol says that it made more than 200,000 DUI arrests in 2007 with many repeat offenders.

CHP is hoping that this new law will drastically lower that number.

"We have high expectations for this program. Actually, it's a pilot program for a total of six years, and we're hoping that it'll reduce repeat offenders from anywhere from 40 to 95 percent," said Saul Gomez of CHP.

For a first time offense, you're required to have it hooked up to your car for five months. The device costs about $80 a month to lease, and it comes out of your own pocket.

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