Monday, 09 October 2006 00:25

New Law Increases DUI Conviction Penalties

A new law PassedA new law passed late last month now increases the amount of time a driver’s license is suspended for persons convicted of Driving Under the Influence, including those with commercial licenses and juveniles. The bill, SB 1756 written by Senator Carol Midgen, D-San Francisco, was signed by the Governor on September 29th. This bill further strengthens California’s drunk driving and driving under the influence laws closing more loopholes that allowed offenders to be back on the roadways quickly.The new rules include 10 month suspension of driving privileges, instead of the current 6 months, as well as increasing the offense for juveniles from a civil offense to a criminal one. Commercial drivers are also impacted by the law which increases suspension times to 6 months.

That is unless the commercial driver has caused bodily injury to another in the course of their driving under the influence arrest and conviction. If this is the case then the suspension is one year. If a commercial driver is convicted of driving their commercial vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol they will not be eligible for a restricted drivers license at all, according to AB 1756. The rules for restricted driver’s licenses commonly obtained after the initial suspension period have also been increased. Now a driver seeking to obtain a restricted license must enroll in an 18 or 30 month program for offenders, agree to continue the program, install an ignition interlock device on their vehicles- a device which requires that the driver blow into a breathalyzer to measure blood alcohol before the car will start, and pays all fees associated with the conviction and punishments. Also, under the new law any convictions for driving under the influence charges in all 50 states, US territories and Canada shall carry the same weight and force as a California conviction. All California conviction rules shall be applied to drivers convicted outside of the state once the Department of Motor Vehicles is notified of the conviction. Jail stays for persons convicted of DUI have also been increased. First offenders sentenced to county jail can now expect a stay of not less than 96 hours, at least 48 hours of which must be continuous to a maximum of 6 months. Repeat offenders face a suspension time of 3 years under the new rules.

Senator Carol Migden The Rules