California lawmakers fail to toughen drunken driving laws

| 6/15/2005

A bill has died that would have permanently revoked a California driver’s license after a third DUI conviction within 10 years.

The measure remained in the state’s Assembly Appropriations Committee at the deadline for bills to advance from the chamber, effectively killing it for the year. It narrowly passed the Public Safety Committee in April.

Sponsored by Rep. Russ Bogh, R-Yucaipa, AB4 would have changed the current standard – revocation for three to five years for a person convicted of drunken driving three or more times – to a permanent revocation.

The bill would also have removed an important time limitation in the current law.

California laws on drunken driving call for jail time and fines if a series of convictions occurs within a 10-year period. For example, if a person were convicted of drunken driving, and the offense took place within 10 years after two convictions for reckless driving, that person could face 120 days to a year in jail and $390 to $1,000 in fines.

Bogh’s bill would have removed the 10-year provision, meaning if a person were ever convicted of drunken driving after being convicted twice of reckless driving, that person would face jail time and a fine.

The current 10-year provision applies to several combinations of offenses with drunken driving in state law; AB4 sought to remove all the 10-year limits.

The bill would also have required an ignition interlock device – an onboard Breathalyzer – for people convicted of a second DUI within 10 years and had a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.16 percent.