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Breathalyzers Could Become Mandatory For DUI Offenders

Mothers Against Drunk Driving aren’t the only people who like State Sen. Jerry Hill’s proposal to require ignition locks to start cars driven by drivers convicted of one or more DUIs.

The breathalyzer devices would detect blood-alcohol levels. Breath samples within the legal limit would enable the car to start.

Some Ventura County residents said the requirement might have saved the life of Deputy Eugene Kostiuchenko. The Camarillo deputy was struck and killed in October by a suspected drunken driver. Kevin Hogrefe is accused in the hit-and-run crash the killed the deputy. The 25-year-old was arrested for another DUI in Nevada last year.

A pilot program underway in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare counties ends this month.

If the law passes it would be similar to laws in 24 states.

State Sen. Jerry Hill introduced the bill. He said drunken driving kills more than 1,000 people in California every year and injures many more. A close friend of the lawmaker was killed by a drunken driver decades ago.

Hill unveiled the measure at a news conference Monday in Redwood City.

Voluntary breathalyzers linked to a phone app sold out at Brookestone in Santa Barbara over the holidays. The devices cost about $50.

Court-ordered ignition locks cost about $100. Offenders will have to pick up the tab- unless they can show they can’t afford them.

They would be required to use them from 5-months to four years, depending on their convictions.

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