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State lawmaker seeks restrictions on colleagues caught drinking and driving


An Inland Empire lawmaker announced today he's proposing restrictions on state legislators' use of taxpayer-funded vehicles if they're charged or convicted of driving under the influence.

Assemblyman Bill Essayli, R-Norco, introduced Resolution 51, which would mandate that any member of the Assembly who is arrested and charged with DUI lose -- until his or her case is resolved -- the privilege of using a "pool vehicle" provided at no cost to lawmakers while they're in Sacramento.

The resolution would also require that an Assembly member be prohibited from access to pool cars for a minimum of three years following a conviction.   

"Last year, over 1,000 Californians died as a result of drunk drivers," Essayli said. "When I was a prosecutor, I fought to keep our roads safe by prosecuting and convicting drunk drivers. Now as a member of the Assembly, I am troubled by recent incidents of legislators and candidates drinking and driving. Public officials must be held to the highest standards given the public trust placed in us, which is why I've introduced Resolution 51."  

The most recent DUI arrest of a state lawmaker involved state Sen. Dave Min, D-Irvine, in early May. Min, who is also running for Congress, was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor DUI in Sacramento after a California Highway Patrol officer spotted him driving without headlights in a Toyota Camry.

Min apologized publicly. The case is awaiting disposition.   

Mothers Against Drunk Driving is supporting Essayli's resolution, which would expand on Rule 120 of the Standing Rules of the Assembly for the current fiscal year. Rule 120 establishes that Assembly members be barred from receiving compensation in the event of a felony conviction of any kind.

"MADD appreciates and supports your desire to hold convicted DUI offenders who are members of the state Assembly accountable by prohibiting them from operating state pool vehicles,'' the organization said in a letter to Essayli. "Limiting access to state pool vehicles in addition to requiring ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders will not only hold elected officials accountable but will lead to much-needed change in driving behavior and decision-making that endangers California residents and visitors every day.”

Resolution 51 is awaiting a hearing in the Assembly Rules Committee, which will reconvene on Aug. 14, following the Legislature's summer recess.

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