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New DUI Diversion Law Causes Controversy

Posted on in DUI

california defense lawyerA new law that allows judges to grant diversion to those convicted of misdemeanor driving under the influence (DUI) has been causing confusion in the California court system, according to The Press-Enterprise. Critics of the measure say judges are applying it inconsistently, often granting diversion to defendants with means while poorer defendants are punished with criminal penalties. 

Assembly Bill 3234

Assemblyman Phil Ting, a Democrat from San Francisco, introduced Assembly Bill 3234 as part of a criminal justice reform package designed to, among other things, give judges the discretion to place first-time DUI offenders into a diversion program instead of jail. 

Ting said the measure was modeled off of a program that proved successful in Los Angeles County. Since judges could grant diversion, he explained the county court system had 2,000 fewer jury trials, which saved some $12,000 per day. Also, according to Ting, those who completed a diversion program were less likely to re-offend. 

Although the bill makes no mention of alcohol or driving, it authorizes judges to grant diversion over the prosecutor’s objection for a misdemeanor and delay criminal charges for up to 24 months. 

According to the bill, the judge can order the defendant to comply with terms deemed appropriate for the defendant. If the defendant completes the program, the court will dismiss criminal charges. But, if the defendant violates the terms of the program, the judge can resume criminal proceedings. 

Some Say AB 3234 is Too Vague

According to The Press-Enterprise, AB 3234 causes confusion because the circumstances in which a judge should grant diversion are not defined. Therefore, how a first-time misdemeanor DUI offender is sentenced is wholly dependant on the judge. Although public defenders in Orange County and Riverside declined to say how many DUI cases resulted in diversion, they did say the majority of requests are denied. 

With the confusion caused by AB 3234 now known, lawmakers are trying to balance the scales with measures that would create a standard for who should and who should not be granted diversion. Additionally, Ting told the newspaper that he agreed the confusion should be addressed, but he does not believe a “one-size-fits-all approach” will work. 

Contact a Bay Area DUI Attorney

If you have been arrested for a first-time misdemeanor DUI or another criminal offense, contact  San Francisco DUI lawyer Paul Burglin. Mr. Burglin has been practicing law and defending those accused of DUI for more than 30 years. Call him today at 415-729-7300 for a free consultation. 

 

Sources: 

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200AB3234

https://www.pe.com/2021/09/26/misdemeanor-diversion-law-sparks-confusion-disparities-in-dui-cases/

https://a19.asmdc.org/press-releases/20200930-governor-signs-ting-bill-giving-more-californians-second-chance

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=VEH&division=11.5.&title=&part=&chapter=4.&article=5.

 

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