Mothers Against Drunk Driving is speaking out against a pending bill that would restrict the ability of officers to enforce certain laws during sobriety checkpoints.
According to the advocacy group, Assembly Bill 1389 condones driving without a valid driver's license by preventing law enforcement from enforcing current laws meant to protect people on roadways, such as whether the motorist has a valid driver's license and vehicle registration, as well as checking for outstanding warrants or probation violations.
"If lawmakers want to change the licensing requirements to operate legally on California roadways, do it without compromising law enforcement's ability to enforce DUI laws," said Mary Klotzbach, public policy liaison for MADD California.
In 2009, DMV reported that there were 170,622 convictions for driving without a license in California. Of these convictions, 43,598 were for operating illegally on a suspended license due to a previous DUI.
"Sobriety checkpoints are one of the most critical tools available for law enforcement to deter drunk driving," Klotzbach said. "Sobriety checkpoints send a message that if a motorist chooses to drive drunk, he or she will get caught."
A comprehensive study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that when well-publicized sobriety checkpoints were conducted, alcohol-related crashes and fatalities decreased by more than 20 percent.
"A successful sobriety checkpoint occurs when no one is arrested for DUI," she said. "However, these are also an opportunity to ensure that drivers with prior drunk driving convictions are not in violation of the law."
According to MADD, AB 1389 would allow more DUI offenders operating on a suspended license to continue to drive illegally on the state's roadways.
The bill is pending in the Senate Appropriations Committee. MADD is encouraging residents to contact their senator to voice their opposition to this legislation.
For more information on sobriety checkpoints, visit www.madd.org.