New DUI law takes effect Jan. 1


Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, authored the bill and eight others that were signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2011.

Hill said this month that the repeat DUI offender bill was inspired by a case in which an inebriated man "stumbled" into a Starbucks in the Laurelwood Shopping Center in San Mateo while two California Highway Patrol officers were there having coffee.

The officers watched the man get back into his vehicle and drive away, Hill said. They followed and pulled the suspect over, which resulted in the offender's ninth DUI conviction.

"Unless you injure or kill someone, your license could only be suspended for three years," Hill said of existing laws.

After hearing about the case and researching conditions under current law -- which puts the authority to suspend a license for up to three years in the hands of the Department of Motor Vehicles -- Hill found that there were more than 300,000 DUI offenders with three or more convictions that were allowed to drive on California roadways.

"I thought, 'This is crazy,'" Hill said.

The new law allows a judge to punish a repeat DUI offender with a suspension of up to 10 years after a third conviction.

According to Hill's office, if every judge utilized the 10-year license revocation in the new law, more than 10,000 repeat DUI offenders could be taken off the state's roadways every year.

Hill said he hopes the new law will help improve the safety on the roads for all Californians.

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