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Coming soon to L.A: Ignition-locking breathalyzers for cars

Arnold Schwarzenegger spent the weekend madly signing scores of laws that will go into effect in 2010. The screw-ups who comprise our California state legislature had piled a heap of about 700 mostly unneeded, mostly special-interest-ghostwritten new laws on his desk, many of them just  in the last few weeks.

But one law stands out because it is not a stupid idea, was not dreamed up by fools or greedy bastards, and is therefore quite rare in Sacramento: it will physically stop drunk drivers -- a group dominated by partying young adults, alcoholics and underage kids -- from turning on their car ignitions.

The new law will launch in Los Angeles County very soon as a pilot project, but in New Mexico, West Virginia and Washington the amazing verdict is in:

This ultimate breathalyzer test (a small "ignition interlock device"  or IID is attached to a

car's ignition) really does prevents assholes and creeps from driving when drunk.

Once it is widely required in California, it's expected to save thousands of lives and to prevent

tens of thousands of horrific accidents. Don't you wish you'd bought

stock in companies that make this thing?

Assembly Bill 91 was written by Los Angeles state Assemblyman Mike Feuer.

It's one of those rare laws where the idiots in Sacramento did not try to invent a brand-new idea for California. They really suck at that. In this case, Feuer stayed fairly close to an effort already working in other states.

One of the best things about this pilot project, which will launch in the counties of Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare on July 1, 2010, is that the pricey breathalyzer-ignition lock device is going to be installed on all vehicles owned or operated by a person convicted of a DUI offense--and woo hoo!!--taxpayers won't pay.

The drunk driver has to pay. Good! Maybe we can further screw these jerks by requiring them to pay for an extra smog check while they're at it.

In the pilot counties, after five years (in 2015), the DMV will release data showing how well it's working. Why five years? It's going to work beautifully.  This law will probably cut repeat drunk-driving offenses by 60 percent to 70 percent, as it's done in New Mexico and West Virginia.

And that means that California's drunk-driver carnage -- accidents, maimings, vehicular manslaughter, family grief, massive traffic jams -- will drop dramatically.

An extremely rare bravo has to go to the deeply unpopular state Legislature, 120 people who have consistently made California look bad nationwide in the past few years. Polls show that record numbers of California residents now believe the 120 highly-paid pols (who, roughly, rake in $150,000/year in salary and per diem) are up there in the Capitol writing bad laws mostly for special interests.

 Which is true. Congrats to Mike Feuer for doing something for the public at large, a radical idea in Sacramento.


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