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Red License Plates for DUI Offenders Fails in California

May 4, 2006

A controversial bill failed to pass in the California Assembly yesterday after years of debate and attempts to pass it. The bill would have made it mandatory for anyone convicted of certain DUIs in California to have special license plates identifying them as past offenders. The plates were colored a bright red with the letters "DUI" spelled down the side of them in white. Despite the failure of the bill to pass Assemblyman Ran Haynes, R-Temecula and one of the key players behind it, vowed to press forward with a modified version.

The proposal, AB 2099, outlined the penalties for drivers who had two or more DUIs to have the license plates installed on their cars for two years or however long their probationary period was going to be. The bill was supported by the anti-DUI group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and many others. For the past six years the rate of alcohol related accidents has been steadily on the rise throughout California.

Critics contend that this sort of bill would not do anything to stem the accident rate, however. Democratic State Senator Tom Torlakson of Contra Costa County said that the bill didn't do enough and that shaming the drivers was no way to stop their behavior. He suggested exploring other avenues such as rehabilitation instead.

Some 1,400 people were killed and 31,538 injured in California car accidents related to alcohol in 2004 alone, according to a California Highway Patrol report. Stopping the rise in accidents will take more than placing specialized license plates on cars, however, many critics say. Torlakson pointed to the fact that California only had two counties where rehabilitation was an option for DUI offenders (Orange and Butte). He also brought up statistics from Oklahoma which found a significant decrease in accidents after instituting a similar rehabilitation program in that state.

Placing special license plates on cars seems to be one of a number of ineffectual measures aimed at DUI cases throughout the state. Others have included different types of punishments, police stings, and additional arrests and DUI road blocks. The measures have not stemmed the rate of accidents, however. Many though the plates would have drawn undue attention to the drivers from other drivers and the police who would unfairly target them regardless of their sobriety level.

If you or a loved one has been arrested or is facing a charge of DUI in California, contact Criminal Defense Partners immediately for a free consultation. Our California DWI lawyers have years of experience handling cases throughout the Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange Counties.

Because the laws surrounding DUIs and their punishments are changing daily it is important to have experienced lawyers who are up to date on any California DWI laws as well as experience in the region's particular political climate. Contact us today.

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