In April, I wrote a post on California Assemblyman Roger Hernandez who was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. A month before his own DUI arrest, Hernandez introduced a bill (AB2127) that would allow misdemeanor offenders, including DUI offenders, who are sentenced to jail to receive work release credit for participating in educational, vocational, drug treatment and other programs instead of jail time.
Not surprisingly, MADD objected to the passing of AB2127. Mary Klotzbach, National Board Member and Chair of the MADD California Public Policy Committee, stated “AB2127 decriminalizes drunk driving in California and undermines the deterrence message that incarceration provides to potential drunk drivers. As a result, this legislation compromises public safety on California roadways.” According to the Los Angeles Times, Republican Senator Joel Anderson agreed with MADD. In addition to repeatedly referring to the bill as “Roger’s Law,” Anderson stated the bill would pull the teeth from DUI laws that took decades to establish. Supporters of the bill included sheriff’s departments and many California Democrats including Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod who said, “This bill would serve as an incentive for people convicted of low-level misdemeanors to do their best in fully reintegrating into the general society.” Referring to how the bill would affect the growing problem of jail over-crowding, Democrat Senator Mark Leno added “We have limited resources. We have to use them in the wisest way possible.” Hernandez’s name has since been removed from the bill. Notwithstanding the derision from Republicans, the Senate passed the bill 21-14 and returns to the Assembly for a final vote.