Wednesday, November 12, 2008

MADDening interlock news from California DUI criminal defense lawyers at www.SanDiegoDUIlawyer.com/blog

California DUI criminal defense lawyers at www.SanDiegoDUIlawyer.com/blog and California Drunk Driving criminal defense attorneys at www.SanDiegoDrunkDrivingAttorney.net/survey are told Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) joins California Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) in support of lifesaving legislation that would require convicted drunk drivers to use alcohol ignition interlocks to prevent them from continuing to drive drunk. According to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Californians are sharing the road with 310,971 convicted drunk drivers with three or more DUI convictions and 44,210 of those people have five or more convictions. Interlocks are proven to reduce repeat drunk driving offenses by an average of 64 percent.

“MADD thanks Assemblyman Mike Feuer for his leadership and determination to protect Californians from drunk drivers on California roads,” said Laura Dean-Mooney, national president of MADD. “The DOT data of repeat offenders in California should concern the public, who needs to demand a solution. The California legislature must do something to protect the public and stop California’s ‘catch and release’ program on drunk driving.”

At a town hall meeting held Nov. 11 at the North Hollywood High School, MADD, Assemblyman Feuer and the California Highway Patrol covered drunk driving trends in California and the importance of alcohol ignition interlocks in protecting Californians from this preventable crime.

In 2008, Assemblyman Mike Feuer introduced AB 2784, a bill mandating interlocks for all offenders. The bill passed out of the Assembly Public Safety Committee and was amended into an optional, discretionary bill once it reached the Assembly Appropriations Committee. MADD is continuing to push for mandatory interlock legislation in California, which could save hundreds of lives in California.

While there were 204,015 DUI arrests in California in 2007, there are approximately 6,000 interlocks currently installed on vehicles in the state. Nationally, there were nearly 1.5 million arrests for drunk driving last year and only 146,000 interlocks are currently installed. “This is a big gap, that MADD aims to close,” added Dean-Mooney. Research shows people typically drive drunk more than 87 times before they are ever arrested and most have an alcohol dependency issue upon first arrest. “Interlocks stop this revolving door,” she said. MADD supports legislation to require ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders in California. Currently, eight states have this legislation. MADD believes that with our grassroots support, California can join these leaders.

"One of the top priorities of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) has always been to remove drunk drivers from our roads. As the chairperson of the Peace Officers Association of Los Angeles County (POALAC) Traffic Committee, we have partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving in its effort to Eliminate Drunk Driving," said Bill Dance, captain of the California Highway Patrol. "The CHP along with the other law enforcement agencies of POALAC that participate in the "Avoid the 100" anti-DUI program, are dedicated to the mission of arresting DUI drivers before they injure or kill innocent people. There are too many repeat offenders still driving under the influence putting our citizens and families on the road at risk. We fully support Assemblyman Feuer and MADD with their efforts to keep the repeat offenders off of our streets and highways."

Kath Robi along with her daughter Jennifer spoke at the event. Both were severely injured when a drunk driver with three prior DUI convictions crashed into their car on April 27, 2007. Although the driver had three prior DUI convictions before this new felony charge, she was sentenced to only 90 days in the county jail.

After years of enforcing the law as officers in the Los Angeles Police Department, the Robi family can’t understand how the law can ignore repeat DUI offenses. Jennifer’s dad, Paul, is a Detective II with the LAPD's Bomb Squad. Her brother, Christopher, is an LAPD police officer, and her mom is a retired LAPD officer.

“We need stronger laws,” said Kath Robi. “The hammer needs to fall on these people. This is outrageous!”

Drunk driving is the nation’s most frequently committed violent crime – resulting in 1,155 deaths and thousands of injuries in California alone in 2007.

Alcohol ignition interlocks, paid for by the convicted drunk driver, are a breath test device linked to a vehicle’s ignition system. When a convicted drunk driver wishes to start his or her vehicle, he or she must first blow into the device, but the vehicle will not start if the driver has alcohol in his or her system.

MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving calls for intensive high-visibility law enforcement and full implementation of alcohol ignition interlocks. MADD’s mission is to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime and prevent underage drinking. Founded in 1980, MADD has helped save more than 330,000 lives. For more information, visit www.madd.org.