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Stiffer Penalties Proposed for Drunk Driving

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Aired 4/19/09

So-called "extreme drunk drivers" could be looking at tougher penalties in California. That's under a bill that cleared the State Senate on Thursday. From Sacramento, Marianne Russ reports. 

Right now you can be convicted of a DUI with a blood alcohol level of .08 or above. But once you pass the .20 limit, the court is supposed to consider an extra sanction: A breathalyzer device in the car that prevents the engine from starting if the driver's drunk.

Democratic Senator Jenny Oropeza says her bill would reduce that threshold to .15 blood alcohol.

Oropeza:  "It makes it easier for the judges to consider this as a possible penalty." 

Silas Miers is with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which supports the bill. 

Miers:  "It's definitely a sanction that definitely takes away the ability for the drunk driver to continue driving drunk."

Opponents have argued there's no evidence that the current standard isn't working. The measure passed the Senate with bi-partisan support. It heads next to the Assemby.

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