Ask the DMV: What new laws affect DUI offenders?

Ask the DMV
By: George Valverde, California Department of Motor Vehicles
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Q: Can you give more information about the new laws that will be enforced for driving under the influence offenders? A:The Ignition Interlock Device law took effect on July 1, 2010. Drivers convicted of a DUI will be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). The IID will be wired to a vehicle's ignition and requires a breath sample before the engine will start. If the IID detects alcohol on the driver's breath, the engine will not start. The car will start if alcohol is not detected. The IID also requires a periodic breath sample to ensure the continued absence of alcohol in the driver's system The new law is being piloted in four counties: Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare. This pilot effort will help assess the effectiveness of the IID. Its objective is to reduce repeat driving under the influence violations. In addition, another law, which took effect on July 1, 2010, allows for the early reinstatement of a driver license for the second and third convictions for DUI (alcohol related only). Drivers with a second conviction could get their license reinstated after three months (instead of four), and drivers with a third conviction could reinstate after 6 months (instead of one year) providing that the IID is installed and all other requirements are met prior to installation of the IID. This law will be in effect in the entire state. To learn more about the new laws, visit the California Department of Motor Vehicles' website, and click the DMV Info tab on the homepage, and from there scroll down to New Laws. Q:I am confused about the "point" system. How do you get a "point" on your driving record? A: Thank you for your question. A point is something no one wants on their record. Tickets and collisions are assigned points and depending on the severity of the incident, you can receive from one to two points. Moving violations such as running a red light or being cited for speeding will cost you one point, and convictions for more serious offenses such as hit-and-run and driving under the influence will count for two. If you get too many points on your driving record, you can be found negligent and lose your license. You will be considered a negligent operator if your driving record shows any of the following point count totals: · 4 points in 12 months · 6 points in 24 months · 8 points in 36 months For more information about the point system, please visit the DMV website at From there, click the Publication Tab and go to the California Driver Handbook link, and turn to the section Actions that Result in Loss of License. Q:My 1991 Nissan failed the past two smog tests. I am 77 years old and my use of this car is very limited since I only drive it when I go grocery shopping and to medical appointments. Would minimal use of a vehicle be a consideration in granting an exception, if it should fail again? A:I forwarded your question to our friends at the Department of Consumer Affairs/Bureau of Automotive Repair, which has jurisdiction over the Smog Check program. Unfortunately the answer to your question is no, minimal use of a vehicle does not qualify for an exception. However, there is some good news. Because of the age of your vehicle, I suspect it is being directed to a Test-Only station for its Smog Check. If you fall into a low-income category or your vehicle is directed to Test-Only you may qualify for financial assistance from the state if it fails to pass Smog Check. The Bureau's Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) offers two options for vehicles that fail Smog Check. You may qualify for the Repair Option, which offers up to $500 from the state to bring your vehicle into compliance with Smog Check standards, or you can take advantage of the Vehicle Retirement option and receive $1,000 from the state to retire your car. George Valverde is the director of the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Do you have questions about general driving related requirements? The California DMV has answers at