Assemblyman John J. Benoit (R-Bermuda Dunes) recently introduced a bill, which is likely to become law, that beefs up California DUI laws in a number of areas:
- Under existing law, if an intoxicated driver causes great bodily injury to a victim, the driver can receive a maximum of 6 years in state prison. However, if an intoxicated driver causes a fatality, the maximum sentence is, strangely, only 4 years. The new bill would make the make the maximum sentence 6 years for both offenses.
- The bill also makes repeat DUI offenders ineligible for probation (meaning that a second DUI would automatically result in a prison sentence). It also adds 3 years in prison to the sentence for a subsequent conviction.
- Currently, if a person were convicted of BUI (boating under the influence), prior DUI convictions would result in harsher penalties. The converse, however, is not true: prior BUI convictions do not result in a harsher sentence for a DUI. The bill would change this, allowing prosecutors to enhance DUI charges if the defendant has prior BUI convictions. The bill also increases the statute of limitation on prior BUIs from 7 to 10 years, which is the current statue of limitation for DUIs.
- According to present DUI law in California, a person arrested for DUI can choose between taking a urine, blood or breath test at the police station. However, the urine test cannot adequately determine the amount of drugs in a person’s system. The bill would remove the urine test as an option in an effort to facilitate the prosecution of drugged drivers.
Almost without exception, DUI laws nationwide only move in one direction: toward harsher penalties. And California—as we have seen in this, and previous, blogs—is no exception. As laws get harsher and more complicated, two things happen: the potential consequences of a DUI arrest become more devastating and, consequently, the need to find an experienced DUI attorney becomes more dire.
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