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September 10, 2009 - Bill Would Disable Cars of Calif. Drunk Drivers

California's Assembly voted 56-0 to approve a pilot program requiring ignition-locking devices in all vehicles of owners convicted of drunken driving.

The bill -- now before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has not decided whether to sign it -- requires a driver to blow into a device before starting the car.

The car will not start if the interlock equipment detects any alcohol on the driver's breath -- even from as little as one drink.

The pilot program, involving four counties, including Los Angeles, would start next July and run until 2016, at which time it could become statewide law.

It has the support of the California Highway Patrol, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and numerous safety organizations.

It is opposed by the American Beverage Institute, which wants the legislation limited to drivers with more than one conviction.

Of the 4,000 people killed each year on California roads, more than 25 percent are killed by drunken drivers.

More than 200,000 motorists are convicted each year of driving under the influence in the state, and some 50,000 have prior convictions for exceeding the state's blood-alcohol limit of 0.08.

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