Will Early DUI Releases Put Innocent Lives at Risk?


In light of ongoing precautions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation have begun the process of releasing thousands of inmates back into California communities. While early DUI releases are necessary in order to extend safety to everyone, this decision has engendered great concern. 

Crimes committed by these inmates consist of various felonies and all identified for release have extensive criminal histories. Some inmates have parole violations, underscoring their inability to adhere to restrictions mandated by the court. However, it is important to note that all inmates do not pose a threat to the community.

One particular concerning release includes Steven Elms, 45, of Terra Bella who has 11 prior DUI convictions since 1998. The most recent conviction stems from a DUI accident in February 2019 after he swerved past a sheriff’s office detective at a dangerously accelerated speed. Once he was brought in, they found Elm’s blood-alcohol level to be 0.15%, almost twice the legal limit. At his subsequent trial, the judge sentenced him to more than five years in prison.

Consider the Consequences of Early DUI Releases

Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward insightfully stated that “to release an inmate with 11 DUI convictions back into our community is not only reckless but insensitive to victims.”

Honestly, the early release of repeat DUI offenders seems like an egregious mistake that could result in potential injury or more. Further consideration needs to be made about the inmates whose actions could affect the safety of others around them. Hopefully, proper restrictions will be put in place that work to ensure public safety.

Prosecutors will most likely object to early DUI releases at the local and state level due to potential negative consequences. In cases like this, prosecutors will continue to seek maximum penalties against repeat DUI offenders.

During these unprecedented times, it is important for members of the community to feel safe while on the road. If Newsom allows the mass release of repeat DUI offenders, it can possibly do more harm than good.

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