How does Proposition 47 effect DUI cases in California?
Proposition 47 (or “Prop 47” for short) is a new law in California that was voter approved in November of 2014. Under Proposition 47, criminal cases involving drug crimes that are non-violent in nature are treated much less harshly than they were previously.
Background for Prop. 47:
Prior to Prop 47, many crimes such as shoplifting and drug possession were treated as felonies. This means long state prison sentences of more than one year if a person is convicted of these crimes. In the past, California led the nation in being tough on crime, with some of the most stringent anti-drug trafficking laws, death penalty laws and long prison sentences for felonies.
This led to a problem in California prisons: over-crowding. California’s prisons became full of petty drug criminals, shoplifters and others that did not commit violent offenses.
The prison over-crowding led to some drastic measures: felons were housed in local county jails. County-jails were never designed to hold long term prisoners, and soon they too became over-crowded. County-jails soon were overrun with inmates. Something had to be done.
Reasons for and against Prop 47:
A solution to California’s overcrowding situation could be found by lowering the punishment for non-violent offenses. Many petty drug offenses can be treated as misdemeanors: with no prison time and short or even no county jail time imposed. Similarly, certain non-violent crimes, such as shoplifting, could be treated as misdemeanors.
Opponents of Prop 47 argued the change in the law may encourage criminal behavior, by lowering the punishments for certain crimes. They also argue the deterrent nature of felony conviction would be lessened by Prop 47.
Prop 47 and DUI cases:
DUI cases are not directly affected by Prop 47, because most DUI cases are treated as misdemeanors. If a DUI case is treated as a felony, it is because there are injuries involved to accident victims as a result of a crash caused by the DUI. In those cases, the DUI is treated as a violent felony, which is not covered under Prop 47. Simply put, DUI cases are not covered by prop 47.
In the news: Proposition 47