Houman Fakhimi

Orange County DUI Arrestees Could Get Early Release With AB 2127

Orange County DUI defense attorneys have often noted that the criminal justice system, with regard to Orange County DUIs, is aimed at penalization, rather than reform.

With this type of offense, this approach is counterintuitive - if you don't treat the underlying issue, jail can become a revolving door. But we were never in a position to do anything about it - except aggressively defend the cases and work diligently toward the best possible outcome for our clients.

Setting the standard of law is a responsibility that falls on the shoulders of our legislature.

Now, though, one of those legislators is facing his own first-time DUI. And, he is sponsoring a bill that would result in expanded early release options for people who are convicted of a DUI.

Of course, advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving are not pleased. However, the measure may make good sense, given our issues with jail and prison overcrowding and the cost of incarceration versus the benefit of society - particularly if treatment were an alternative (and less expensive) option.

Assembly Bill 2127 (or AB 2127) provides work release credits for certain jail inmates who complete life skills classes, actively search for employment or get approval to return to their regular place of employment. Under the current law, an inmate can earn work release credits, but only to complete manual labor that is supervised by the county. This would include things like graffiti clean up.

The bill, which was introduced by Roger Hernandez, a Democrat from West Covina, doesn't actually say that it's directed toward drunk drivers. However, this offense is one that could fall under the umbrella of low-level misdemeanor offenses.

Hernandez reportedly introduced the measure back in late February. Then in late March, he was arrested for drunk driving.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Hernandez was driving a state car in Sacramento around 2 a.m. in Concord. Police officers noted he was swerving between two lanes. The newspaper said Hernandez did not have permission to be driving the vehicle in the first place.

Hernandez was still being allowed access to state cars.

After he was stopped, he refused to take a breathalyzer test, though officers said he appeared to be intoxicated. He was subsequently arrested. A blood test was taken while he was in jail, and the results of that test are pending.

He voted in favor of the bill the following month, about two weeks after his arrest.

MADD is staunchly against the measure - or at least the part that may pertain to drunk drivers. They don't have an issue with the bill per se as it pertains to other offenders, but they are requesting that the bill be rewritten so as to exclude drunk drivers as being eligible for the early release program.

However, Hernandez maintains that AB 2127 will be an incentive for those individuals locked up for low-level offenses to work hard and do their best to reintegrate into society - thereby reducing not only jail overcrowding, but also the possibility of recidivism.

Trial Attorney Houman Fakhimi knows that these individuals are all but guaranteed to be released in short measure back into society. Therefore, makes sense to reward them for taking positive steps while they are locked up to make sure they don't return.