Tuesday, March 30, 2010
A bill that would give judges the power to permanently revoke the licenses of DUI offenders is slowly advancing towards becoming a law. California DUI lawyers and civil rights advocates are rightly outraged that the bill is even being considered at all.

Bill A.B. 1601 was introduced by California Assemblyman Jerry Hill. It would allow judges to consider a drunk driving offender’s entire lifetime history of DUI arrests, instead of just over the past 10 years which is currently the rule. If the bill is passed, a motorist having two DUI arrests 20 years apart, would have the same kind of punishment as a person with two DUI arrests in a single year. Obviously, the two are entirely different situations. According to estimates, there are currently 300,000 motorists in California with at least three DUI convictions on their records. If the bill becomes law, motorists like these would stand to lose their driving privileges permanently.

In a state like California, where people are still dependent on cars to get around in the absence of easy access to public transportation, losing driving privileges permanently would mean havoc in a person’s professional life. The American Civil Liberties Union is also taking a dim view of this provision. Assemblyman Hill insists that his bill will allow judges to use their discretion when they decide to permanently revoke a motorist’s driving privileges.

That point simply does not comfort California DUI attorneys. Besides the fact that it promotes revoking licenses permanently and arbitrarily for DUI offenses over a person’s entire lifetime, there is also the fact that such measures never attack the problem they are meant to solve. Not being able to drive to work will only mean an increase in the number of unlicensed motorists in California, and all the problems that that brings.

Drunk driving is not the major issue it used to be, and there are fewer people being arrested for these offenses. It makes little sense to enact such unnecessarily strong legislation that would only add to problems with traffic safety.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It has been a week of law enforcement officers being charged with DUI.  This week, a former Riverside Police Department chief in Riverside, California was charged after he crashed his car under the influence of alcohol.  Now, a police trooper in Colorado has been charged after he was caught driving drunk - wait for this – in his police uniform and driving his patrol car.

48-year-old trooper David Dolan was arrested just outside Denver, after several people called 911 to report that a police car was being driven erratically. Dolan was found to be driving under the influence. He was arrested, and then released after posting $1,000 bail. Dolan, a 21-year veteran of the Colorado State patrol, was charged with DUI and prohibited use of weapons. It is illegal in Colorado for an intoxicated person to be carrying firearms.

Dolan is currently in an alcohol treatment facility. It is apparently not the first time he has needed a facility like this. On an earlier occasion, according to one of his relatives, he had spent 2 ½ days in an alcohol treatment center. According to his family, Dolan suffers from post traumatic stress disorder brought on by working in the Colorado State Patrol's accident reconstruction team.

It is strange how quickly we begin hearing reasons for alcohol abuse when the offender in question, is a member of law enforcement. It's highly unlikely that a police trooper anywhere else in the country would pull over a motorist who had a blood alcohol level of .08% or even a fraction of a percentage more, and then proceed to ask him the reasons for his drinking. Dolan's job stresses or any other issues are unimportant here. As a uniformed member of his state’s law enforcement, Dolan had a duty to set an example for the motoring public, that he no doubt took pleasure in preaching to every day.

Chalk another one for the DUI cases that Los Angeles DUI lawyers will be monitoring very closely in the weeks ahead.