SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — A Bay Area lawmaker wants to strengthen the drunk driving laws.

DUI crashes kill 1000 people each year in California, and leave more than 20,000 injured. Repeat offenders account for a third of annual convictions. With numbers like that, state Senator Jerry Hill said he needed to act.

On Monday, he plans to introduce legislation that would require anyone convicted of a DUI to have a mini-breathalyzer device installed in their car.

“They could not drive if they have any detection of alcohol on their breath. The car just won’t start for them,” said Hill.

First time DUI offenders would have the device in place for 6 months. Then, it jumps up to a full year for a 2nd offense.

Thirty years ago Hill’s best friend was killed in a head on collision when a drunk driver crossed over the center median.

“It’s something that’s personal to me. I know the pain his family and we felt… I hate to see other families go through that.”

Alameda County is one of four around the state running an interlocking device pilot program, In addition, 24 states around the nation are doing something very similar. Some have had remarkable results.

“The reduction we see in deaths, collisions, and accidents is astounding,” said Hill. “We think this could have a tremendous effect in the reduction of recidivism, and the saving of lives.”

If passed, Hill’s bill would require violators to pay for the device. Those who could prove financial hardship would have the interlocking system installed for free.

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