California Blood Alcohol Content(BAC) Bill Stuck in Legislative Committee

California DUI CapitalLegislation aimed at strengthening California DUI laws has become mired in parliamentary procedure. The measure called for allowing a field officer to compel a driver to submit to a blood alcohol content(BAC) test in situations where a traffic accident resulted in a fatality.

Senate Bill 176 had bi-partisan support, being authored by Senator Jeff Denham (R-Merced) and co-authored by Senator Tom Torlakson (D-Antioch) and Assemblyman Dave Jones (D-Sacramento). The drunk driving legislation had been approved twice in both Senate and Assembly policy committees and it was unanimously approved in not one but two full Senate votes.

Members of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, however, rejected a call last week to submit the bill to a vote by the entire Assembly. Instead the measure was placed on the ‘Suspense File’ where it may die procedurally without requiring a vote. Senator Denham cited the influence of the ACLU and trial lawyer lobbies.

The "bill would have helped determine whether someone was driving under the influence(DIU) when a fatality occurred and would have allowed for proper punishment of more drunk drivers," Denham said.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee has demonstrated a reluctance to enact past tough drunk driving laws, such as permanent revocation of a driver’s license after three DUI arrests.

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