In our Tuesday editorial, we strongly supported a bill by local Assemblyman Jared Huffman that would have required anyone receiving three DUIs to have their driver’s license taken away – permanently.
We felt such non-nonsense rules were needed after growing weary of the repeated stories of people with multiple DUIs having their licenses taken away only after they killed someone.
Huffman’s bill, AB 1443, known as “Melody’s Law,” was named after 9-year-old Melody Osheroff of Novato who was hit and killed a year ago by a motorcyclist who had 12 prior convictions for DUI or reckless driving.
Enough is enough.
But the bill was shot down before the state Senate Public Safety Committee on Tuesday. The bill died on a 3-0 vote. The committee, chaired by state Sen. Mark Leno, whose district stretches from the southern half of Sonoma County to San Francisco, preferred a more watered-down version of the bill that essentially gives judges discretion to revoke a license for 10 years.
In an e-mail to me this morning, Huffman made his disappointment and frustration clear. “When I introduced this bill in February, I thought initiating the bill in the Senate Public Safety Committee would be a good thing – that the chair would be familiar with the Osherhoff tragedy in our district and would therefore want to collaborate on a strong bill that addressed the glaring gap in the law regarding chronic DUI offenders,” Huffman wrote. “Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. From the beginning, the committee felt the bill was too strong and yesterday they unceremoniously killed it – with several members not even voting — in favor of a much weaker bill that barely changes current law.”
He continued: “I’m still glad we fought for a stronger policy – one that isn’t discretionary with a judge, one that looks at a driver’s entire record instead of ignoring DUI’s if they are more than 10 years old, and one that draws a line for the worst repeat offenders by making license suspension truly permanent instead of continuing the current policy of endless second chances. We lost this round, but I’m not giving up the fight for stronger DUI policies.We’re looking at our options for next year.”
- Paul Gullixson, Editorial Director