MADD says Roger Hernandez bill too lenient on DUI offenders
A state lawmaker who faces charges of driving while intoxicated has come under criticism from Mothers Against Drunk Driving for pushing a bill that the group said would make it easier for DUI offenders to get out of jail early.
MADD called Wednesday for the Senate to reject the bill, AB 2127, by Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina), which expands the kinds of work a prisoner can do to be eligible for early release from county jail.
A MADD official said the group was not making an issue of the DUI charges against Hernandez, but instead is demanding that the bill exclude drunk drivers from the expanded early release options.
"AB 2127 decriminalizes drunk driving in California and undermines the deterrence message that incarceration provides to potential drunk drivers," said Mary Klotzbach, chairwoman of the MADD California Public Policy Committee in a statement. "As a result, this legislation compromises public safety on California roadways.”
The bill is also opposed by the California District Attorneys Assn. "Unfortunately, this bill represents another way for offenders to serve less custody time," the association wrote to the Legislature.
The measure would provide work-release credits against jail sentences to convicts who take life skills classes, look for employment or get approval to return to their regular jobs, new options in addition to the current alternative of agreeing to county-supervised manual labor such as graffiti cleanup. The bill does not mention drunk driving or any offense by name, but would broadly apply to offenses that get jail sentences.
Hernandez introduced the measure Feb. 23, a little more than a month before he was arrested for drunk driving. He voted for the bill in April, two weeks after his arrest.
The assemblyman did not return a call Wednesday, but he wrote to his colleagues that his bill would "serve as an incentive for people convicted of low-level misdemeanors to do their best to fully reintegrate into the general society by receiving release credit for working."
-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: Assemblyman Roger Hernandez in his arrest booking photo. Credit: Concord Police Department