Keeping Repeat DUI Offenders Off The Roads | Crime
SALINAS, Calif--The numbers are startling. According to the Attorney General's Office, nearly 14,000 people were arrested in Monterey County back in 2008 for misdemeanor DUI. Another 337 were felony DUI arrests. Officers with the California Highway Patrol say those numbers are frustrating.
"Very much so," says Officer Robert Lehman, CHP. "Especially when we see anybody get hurt. Anybody get killed. Even more so when it's an innocent party."
The problem though is keeping those drivers off the roads. After your first offense, your license can be suspended for six months. Second offense, two year license suspension. Third offense, three years suspension. At four years, that's when it becomes a felony, and your license is suspended for up to four years. Officers and District Attorney's say that's not keeping drivers off the roads.
"Just because they don't have a piece of paper doesn't mean they won't get behind a car and do it," says Ed Hazel, Managing Deputy District Attorney in Monterey County. "People who are inclined to driving under the influence like that are going to do it whether they have a piece of paper or not."
That's why officers are cracking down on first time offenders, hoping it'll be their last offense.
"By taking strong enforcement and having strong penalties for first time offenders, we're able to deter people and help them make better decisions," says Lehmen.
"The legislature made the fourth offense a felony," says Hazel. "And so now they're risking going to state prison for up to three years and that's pretty eye opening....So we would hope that that alone with the monetary disincentives, the increase in your insurance, the fines you have to pay, we hope those would be deterrents."
Officers say first time offenders can end up paying between $13,000 and $15,000 in court costs, vehicle impoundment fees, fees to the DMV and insurance increases, just to name a few.