Watch CBS News

California bill would strengthen penalties for first-time DUI offenders

DUI penalties could get stricter under new California bill
DUI penalties could get stricter under new California bill 03:13

SACRAMENTO — Advocates gathered alongside lawmakers on Thursday to express support for a bill that aims to strengthen the consequences for anyone convicted of DUI, not just repeat offenders.

It would require first-time offenders to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle.

Rhonda Campbell, with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said other states with similar penalties are seeing success.

"We're California. We're cutting edge. We need to be an example and follow through with what other states see working," Campbell said. "We are seeing a spike in drunk driving crashes. Unfortunately, in our state, and between 2019 and 2022, we've had a 53% increase."

The bill, also known as Angel's Law, is inspired by Angel Renteria who was run over by a drunk driver while walking her dog in 2022. She was left paralyzed and unable to speak.

"We know that once a person has been convicted of a drunk driving offense, they are four times more likely to go out and re-offend and cause a fatal crash," Campbell said. "If this prevents even one of those from happening, it's worth it."

The bill outlines a step-system for first-time offenders where the device is placed on their car for a six-month preliminary period, and if they make it through without violations, the device is removed.

"Right now, the cost to an offender for an interlock device in their car is around $3 a day, or $550 for 6 months, which is the typical first term that you would be required to have that," Campbell said.

The bill will cover the cost for low-income offenders. Some critics have questioned where money for those costs will come from.

"When this came out being a cost problem, I talked about this with my parents. Right? They lost a child to a drunk driver," Campbell said. "My mom said 'I would gladly write that check every single day if I could have my daughter back,' and so, from our perspective, this is nothing. Money is a miserable excuse to not put this law into effect to save people's lives."

The bill is set to go before the public safety committee next week to be considered and potentially put for a full vote sometime this year.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.