SANTA ANA, CA – AAA, citing the need to protect the public against drunk drivers, announced its support of ignition interlocks for all convicted DUI offenders.

AAA stressed that it is not alone in its concern about impaired driving. According to the 2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than nine in 10 drivers consider drinking and driving by others a serious threat to their personal safety. Nearly all (97 percent) surveyed find it unacceptable for drivers to get behind the wheel when they have had too much to drink. Nearly eight in 10 support requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted DUI offenders, even if it’s their first conviction.

Research has identified ignition interlock devices (IIDs) as a proven way to save lives, AAA said. Further, research confirms that IIDs are more effective than other methods at reducing re-arrest among convicted drunk drivers and keeping impaired drivers off the road. 

AAA said it is reaching out to motorists on the heels of a recent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) decision to support laws requiring IID use for all first-time DUI offenders — one of several new recommendations issued to help curb alcohol-related traffic injury and death.  

“I commend AAA for stepping up for safety,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman. “Technologies, such as ignition interlocks, will reduce alcohol-related crashes on our nation's roadways.”  

Seventeen states have passed laws mandating statewide use of ignition IIDs for all offenders. Since 2010, California has mandated a pilot program in four counties (Los Angeles, Alameda, Sacramento and Tulare) covering 13 million people, requiring installation of IIDs for first-time and multiple offenders. Drivers in other counties may also be required to install an IID at a judge’s discretion.

“Safety can be improved by requiring IID use for all first-time DUI offenders,” said Anita Lorz, Auto Club traffic safety and community programs manager. “However, simply mandating the device is not enough. We need to ensure that judges actually order IID use and that there is effective oversight and enforcement to ensure offenders have the devices in place on their vehicles. The results of California’s extensive IID first-time offender pilot program, which runs through 2015, will provide critical information to determine how best to use IIDs in the state.”  

According to the Auto Club, a first-offense misdemeanor DUI conviction in California can cost approximately $15,649 or more. That figure is up 29% from just two years ago – largely due to a 37% increase in auto insurance and state and county fees and penalties. The Auto Club estimate also includes:

  • State-mandated (minimum) fine
  • Vehicle towing and storage fees
  • DMV license re-issue fee
  • DUI education class
  • Victim restitution fund fee
  • Booking and other court charges
  • Attorney fees.

These costs do not include other common charges, such as the cost of an IID ($70 or more per month), bail ($2,500), and transportation costs while a driver has a suspended license, lost wages, vehicle property damage, and hospital and medical costs. The cost of an under age 21 first-offense misdemeanor DUI is estimated to be $22,492, due to a larger increase in insurance.