Double Prison Time

By: From Associated Press

SACRAMENTO
Gov. Pete Wilson signed legislation Thursday to more than double prison
terms for repeat drunk drivers involved in fatal accidents, saying that
"from now on, the punishment will match the crime."

The bill, known as "Courtney’s law," was named for 15-year-old
Courtney Cheney of Roseville, who was killed last year by a drunk driver
with four prior convictions for driving under the influence of
alcohol.

The new law imposes prison sentences of 15 years to life for motorists
convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter who have two or more previous
convictions for drunk driving or one prior conviction for vehicular
manslaughter or a similar charge.

"A drunken driver is more than an accident waiting to happen. You’re a
loaded weapon," Wilson said. "We are sending a message to California
motorists, one we hope will scare them sober."

In a bill-signing ceremony in Wilson’s office, Suzanne Meyer,
Courtney’s mother, said it was "both a happy and sad day for us," sad
because she still mourns her daughter’s death, but happy because her name
will be memorialized in a law that will save lives.

Assemblywoman Jackie Speier (D-Burlingame), principal author of the
bill, described it as a three-strikes law for serious drunk driving
offenders.

She said current law will let the driver who killed Courtney out of
jail in 5 1/2 years.

"Everything we can do to stop the slaughter must be done," Speier
said. "Pure and simple, Courtney’s law takes problem drunken drivers off
the road and puts them behind the bars where alcohol is never
served."

Type of Material: Wire Service Story

Descriptors: WILSON, PETE; CALIFORNIA — LAWS; SENTENCING; DRUNK DRIVING;

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