A new bill sponsored by Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, has been signed into law providing a tough new penalty for 3rd time DUI offenses in California, effective from January 1, 2012.
Under Bill AB1601, judges will have the option to revoke a license for up to 10 years when sentencing third-time California DUI offenders.
Currently, the penalty for a third DUI offense in California is a three-year license suspension (or since 7/1/2010, a six-month suspension followed by a restricted license used in conjunction with with an ignition interlock device) under the authority of the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Prompted by many high-profile cases in California featuring repeat DUI offenders, the new bill is promoted as “an important step toward making California’s roads safer”. Assemblyman Hill estimates it will take 10,000 repeat offenders off the road.
Bill AB1601 has yet to be approved by the California State Senate but is widely expected to become state law.
It has received criticism on two fronts.
Some – including the California DUI Lawyers Association – believe that the new third-strike DUI penalty is too tough, and will result in more trials at taxpayer expense as repeat offenders fight to avoid the penalty. There is also, some say, little incentive to stay sober when the reward of getting a license back is such a distant prospect, perhaps leading some to drink and drive in any event.
Others criticize that the new bill is not tough enough, and are disappointed that more severe penalties in the original bill were dropped.
In it’s original form, judges could revoke a license for life and to take into account a multiple-offender’s entire driving record rather than (as now) the previous 10 years only.
It is possible that the Senate may reinstate these provisions but even in it’s current form, penalties for third DUI offenses in California will be significantly more severe.
Copyright © 2010 Caroline Mackenzie