New California law mandates in-car breathalyzers for repeat drunken drivers

California’s treatment of drunk drivers just took a major turn in a “tough love” direction.

Under a new law on Jan. 1, more people convicted of a DUI will be able to keep their full driving privileges, but only because they will be required to install an ignition interlock device, commonly known as a breathalyzer, in their cars.

Those drivers must blow into the interlock device before starting the car. If the cellphone-sized device detects alcohol on the person’s breath, it locks the ignition and the car won’t start.

The device also requires the person to retake the test at random intervals while driving on the road. The device registers whether there has been a violation. State-authorized monitors, who conduct subsequent mandated reviews, must report that violation to authorities.