WatchSonoma Watch

Huffman reacts to defeat of DUI bill

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

7 Responses to “Huffman reacts to defeat of DUI bill”

  1. Mark says:

    The have now turn, drinking and driving into a money making system, They have instigated a NEW one called (WET and RECKLESS )which means even if you have UNDER .08 you get a DUI suspended but with ALL the normal fee’s (10k)and its all administered by the DMV not a court! So you have NO SAY and they know if you fight it you will pay more to a lawyer.
    The few people I know who have gotten this were just had a dinner with one or two glasses of wine and were NOT reckless. Just the police wait for them by known restaurants.

    So, I am glad this was defeated and now go after the repeated offenders of REAL DUI’s

  2. Robert says:

    We ALL want drunk drivers taken off of the roads, however, we cannot afford to keep burying ourselves in mountains of laws created in the name of every single victim in American history. Just take a look at the mess we’ve created for ourselves with Megan’s Law. This was NOT a good bill, and Mr Leno and his committee most certainly did the right thing.

  3. John says:

    I’ve been hit by a drunk driver whose breath test blew 3 times the legal limit at that time. He said he was coming from an AA meeting. Suspended license due to 2 prior DUI’s Even though I was hurt and spent time in the hospital, the judge gave him 6 months, a fine, and continued the suspension of his license. Two years later he was busted for another DUI, but unfortunately he killed another person in that accident.

    Judges are too lenient to be allowed any discretion. Mandatory sentencing is the only way to get these drunks off the roads.

    DUI laws are a joke…to everyone except the victim and their family.

    Mr. Leno deserves to get run over by a DUI. That would be karma.

  4. dui says:

    What is the opinion of the legal experts,general public and Court of law ?

  5. Norm Al says:

    Obviously taking away a drivers license won’t stop everyone, but use your common sense: if EVERY time you try to drive you face a risk of being arrested and getting in trouble, and if you can’t register a vehicle, you’re going to find it a LOT harder to drive. That’s the point. Some will continue to drink, drive, and kill. But many will not. Some lives will be saved. And those with 2 prior DUI’s just might take things more seriously with a law like this on the books. Huffman wrote a good bill, but apparently it was a bit too good for the ACLU and Leno.

  6. Chris says:

    So what would taking a license away permanently do? Does not having a license keep people from driving drunk? Would “Melody” be alive if the guy didn’t have a license? NEWS FLASH: Not having a license DOES NOT CHANGE ANYTHING or stop drunk driving. How pea-brained is the logic of that bill?

    Oh, and one other LITTLE thing, if a guy doesn’t have a license, he can’t get insurance, and families of accident victims have to go after judgment-proof defendants WITHOUT insurance for compensation. Insurance co’s. will fork over $1 mil. in such cases, but without insurance, the victim’s families get little or nothing from the driver personally. In other words, if the guy that hit “Melody” didn’t have a license, he wouldn’t have insurance. The guy would still drive drunk, would still end up killing “Melody”, and the family would not get some easy financial compensation from the guy’s insurance company. With this law, all the “Melodys” would still be dead and their families would not get any financial compensation. How is that an improvement?

  7. Donald says:

    This bill calls for a life-time ban on a person who receives 3 DUI convictions. From who? The Court or the DMV hearings where the average person does not get a fair hearing. And what does this do for people who have had three DUIs, have their license back and are doing well since they the return of their license? Do we now take their driving privilege while they have been reinstated and depend on that license for their families and employment? How far back do you go, and what about the agreements at the time of the conviction the person did a plea bargain; doesn’t that have any merit? The problem is with the DUI schools we have in place today. They are worthless. People who attend private counseling have excellent rates of recovery, so why not make the changes where they are needed in the DUI schools. Get rid of them and send everyone to professional counseling instead of some recovered AA. Do something to help the person and society.