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Apr. 14 2009 - 11:06 pm | 3 views | 2 recommendations | 0 comments

Adenhart Bill passes committee in California

Blow before you go

Image by mrjorgen via Flickr

Ignition interlock devices are on their way in the state of California. If and when the bill passes the full Assembly and receives Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signature (and there is zero reason to think that it won’t), first-time DUI convicts in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Alameda, and Sacramento counties (which comprise more than 50% of California residents) will be required to pay for an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) that will be affixed to their cars for five months. Some quotes from the story:

“Nick Adenhart, whose future, a very promising future, has been ruined because of a drunk driver. Nick is dead,” said Assembly member Jose Solorio (D) from Santa Ana. [...]

“That habitual use of this device assures that they are in a condition in the future to drive sober again,” said Assemblyman [Mike] Feuer.

Near the bottom of the article is this one terse, facts-are-stubborn-things sentence:

California’s own DMV concluded the IID’s were not effective in reducing DUI convictions or incidents for first time offenders.

Which is followed immediately by this bit of objective reporting:

Still, there’s no denying what might have happened had Assemblyman Feuer been successful in getting the ignition lock bill approved last year. The suspected drunk driver in the Adenhart crash, Andrew Thomas Gallo, already had a DUI conviction and the Orange County District Attorney says he was three times over the legal limit this time.

“If we had this law, those three young people in that car quite possibly would have been alive today. The offender would have an IID as a protection device, not so much as a penalty, but to protect him too,” said Mary Klotzbach, from Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Italics mine. “Denying” aside, if they had had this law on the books even 10 years ago, Andrew Thomas Gallo’s car (or cars) would have been breathalyzer-free by¬† … 2006, or at the latest 2007 (depending on whose reporting about his prior DUI conviction you believe). Either way, he killed Adenhart and two other people in 2009. And also, his prior DUI conviction was in San Bernardino County, which is not covered by the new bill. And there are always those six other laws he knowingly broke last week.

And yet the San Mateo County Times, as if to perform a demonstration project for how newspapers, activists, and government officials collude on ambulance-chasing legislation, “reported” that:

The driver who killed Adenhart was driving on a suspended license for previous DUI infractions, which would have required him to use an ignition interlocking device under [the] bill [...]

Studies show that a five-month period of enforced sobriety teaches first-time offenders to break their habit of getting into a car drunk.

Shockingly, the Times neither quoted from nor even named said “studies,” in a fairly lengthy article.

But what of the prevention argument? Won’t requiring a breathalyzer physically prevent drunks from getting behind the wheel, because it will be so hard to drive? Consider this: Los Angeles County, with its 9.9 million residents (so, half the population affected by this bill), has a world-beating 1.8 cars per capita. When you subtract the under-16 crowd and adult non-drivers, that means there are more than two cars per eligible driver in the county.

First-time DUIs with .08 blood alcohol content will now be forced to pony up for thousand-dollar ignition breathalyzers, while booze-addled human scumfruit like Andrew Thomas Gallo will simply borrow mom’s minivan, or have their girlfriends blow through the no-drive device, then get busy with the reckless driving. Such are the joys of legislating through the front page.


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    About Me

    Matt Welch is editor in chief of Reason magazine.

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