require breathalyzer installation in cases with lower blood-alcohol levels

Motorists cited for high blood-alcohol levels could be required to install breathalyzers in their vehicles when legislation reducing the alcohol threshold for judges requiring vehicle breathalyzers as punishment for drunken driving from .20 to .15 goes into effect January 1st.

The blood alcohol content to be cited for drunken driving is .08. For a driver to have a blood-alcohol level of .15, he or she would have to have consumed at least five drinks in an hour.

A vehicle breathalyzer, or ignition interlock device, is a cell phone-sized instrument installed in a driver’s car that would not allow the vehicle to start if the driver has been drinking.

Authored by State Senator Jenny Oropeza of Long Beach, who represents much of the Argonaut coverage area south of Santa Monica, Senate Bill 1190 will take effect on January 1st.

“California currently is among the most lenient of states regarding extreme drunk drivers,” said Oropeza. “But after January 1st, 2009, “This decreases the threshold for judges requiring vehicle breathalyzers as punishment for drunken driving.”

The bill was signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on September 27th.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, California’s current level of .20 is the most lenient in the nation. The federal highway-safety group has encouraged states nationwide to adopt a blood alcohol content (BAC) threshold of .15 for extreme drunken driving.

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