Assemblyman Roger Hernandez of West Covina introduced a bill in late February that has Mothers Against Drunk Driving in an uproar, reports the Los Angeles Times. Hernandez’s bill, which he introduced on February 23, would provide work-release credits that shorten jail sentences for misdemeanor offenders. MADD wants DUI offenders excluded from the bill.
Ironically, Hernandez himself was arrested for a DUI only a couple of weeks after the bill was introduced and two weeks before it was voted upon. It is now up to the Senate to pass or reject the bill.
MADD has said that Hernandez’s DUI charges are not an issue.
Instead, MADD takes issue with the fact that the bill could lead to early releases for DUI offenders. The bill would provide work credits for those who seek employment, return to their regular work, and provides new options in addition to county-supervised graffiti cleanup.
The bill does not mention drunk driving by name. Instead, it applies generally to offenses that require jail time. The assemblyman previously promoted the bill by stating that it would "serve as an incentive for people convicted of low-level misdemeanors to do their best to fully reintegrate into society."
As the bill is generally applicable and not DUI specific, it seems as if MADD wants DUI offenders to be treated specially, as their early release would "compromis[e] public safety on California roadways."
Doesn't the early release of nearly any person convicted of a crime severe enough to warrant jail time theoretically compromise public safety? The reality is that there is a budget shortfall and incarceration overpopulation.
It is MADD's job is to lobby on behalf of harsher DUI penalties, and they are doing just that. However the question should be asked: is there a convincing argument for treating DUI offenders more harshly than any other criminal?
- Find a Los Angeles DUI Attorney (FindLaw's Los Angeles DUI Blog)
- Assemblyman Roger Hernandez legally drunk when arrested for DUI (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)
- Former MADD President Busted for DUI (FindLaw's Blotter Crime and Criminals Blog)
- Jail (FindLaw's LawBrain)