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Repeat DUI Offenders In California Could Face Harsher Penalties

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - Repeat DUI offenders could now face harsher penalties in California, including felony charges and a longer vehicle impoundment.

Assembly Bill 401 would change the current law, which states:

"If a person is convicted of driving under the influence and the offense occurred within 10 years after 3 or more other violations for driving under the influence that resulted in specified convictions, that person has committed an offense punishable as either a misdemeanor or a felony, and the person shall have their privilege to drive revoked."

Instead, those convicted of a fifth DUI would face a mandatory felony as long as the most recent offense occurred within 10 years of the first offense. The punishment would be no fewer than 180 days, and no more than one year, behind bars and the fine would range from $390-$1,000. The offender would also need to surrender his or her driver's license.

The offenders' car would also be impounded at the registered owner's expense if a past offense occurred within 10 years. The first repeat violation would lead to a vehicle impoundment of 30-90 days; a second repeat violation would lead to a vehicle impoundment between 90 and 180 days. Current law only requires law enforcement to impound a vehicle if a previous offense occurred within 5 years. The court would also need to seize the cars of certain repeat offenders.

"If someone gets a DUI and pays their debt to society, then that's a mistake worthy of forgiveness. If someone gets 5 DUIs, then that's probably a character trait and they are a threat to our communities," said Assemblymember Heath Flora (R-12th District). "They can still be rehabilitated, but first we need to make sure they are no longer a danger to themselves or to others."

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