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In late February, AB2127 was introduced in California by Assemblyman Roger Hernández (D-West Covina). This bill would allow convicted drunk drivers to participate in educational, vocational, substance abuse, life skills, or parenting programs in lieu of community service. It would also allow regular worked hours to count toward community services. If passed, the decision to deem what constitutes appropriate ‘community hours’ would be left up to the sheriff’s department rather than the courts.

Interestingly, the issue that has taken center stage in the debate is that Hernández has a recent drunk driving arrest, received while driving a state vehicle. According to San Gabriel Valley Tribune Crime Blogger Frank Girardot, the assemblyman’s interests in this legislation are self-serving, in an attempt to get out of obligations related to the DUI. And that has become a distraction. In reality, the DUI was more than a month AFTER Hernández introduced the bill. Unfortunate: Yes. Self-serving? Not likely.

Instead, the real topic for debate should be the intent of community service in the criminal justice mix.

It’s likely that the intent of the bill was to get offenders working—or in ‘healthy’ programs that would help transition them back into the community. Study after study shows that employment is a strong contributor to long-term success for criminal offenders.

So what is the objective of community service? Is it to be punitive? Educational? Restorative? Or is the goal to require the offender to donate time and services to pay back the community?  Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) issued a press release on May 9th urging the California Senate to oppose the bill, saying that it decriminalizes drunk driving, a “fully preventable violent crime.”

Should convicted drunk drivers get community service credit for going to work? Tell us what you think!

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up: A blog about drunk driving, alcohol addiction, and criminal justice, is anything but a corporate blog. Sobering Up is an opportunity for anyone interested or involved in the issues of drunk driving, alcohol-fueled crime, alcohol dependence and addiction, and the justice system to participate in the conversation.


  1. The courts already have the authority to order completion of GED programs and to obtain employment. Community service hours engage the offender in the needs of the community and hopefully foster a connection with the community. It is a character building effort to help the offender see outside of their own situation.

    Allowing offenders to count employment hours and school work hours as community service hours is a bad idea.

  2. This defeats the reasons for community service which is to pay back to the harmed community for the DUI offense. It is a “no brainer” that it should not be passed. As harsh as the punishment is for DUI – it still doesn’t fit the crime. The punishment is not even a deterrent for some as they continue to drink and drive without aliscense andd take the chance of dying or killing others. Fla has over 50 thousand persons driving without a license. It is shameful!

  3. Driving while intoxicated is no joke. How do you solve this crime? People get these machines to start their cars and they have friends blow into them to start their cars then drive drunk. You hear of people having 5 DUI’s or more and they are still driving! We only have so much room in prisons for people. People need to work to have self esteem. People who drive drunk have self esteem issues. However we need to protect the public first! Lock them up, sober them up, community service, then they can have the priviledge to look for work.

    1. Icompletly agree. I had a uncle killed by drunk driver,what was really bad he was only sixteen.

  4. You people below me are rediculous. As a multiple DUI offender, I have done a total of 32 days of hard community service work. While I was out on the sides of the freeways being honked at or walking down streets picking up trash being fround upon, I didn’t feel any connection or sympathy for my D.U.I. In fact, it made me want to enjoy a nice cold beer after I was done. I haven’t drank in almost a year and a half now but not because of the long jail sentence, it’s because of the program I was court ordered to complete. I can tell you from experience, things like jail and community service only make people more agrivated and on top of it, your usually surrounded by alcoholics or addicts that don’t intend to quit. The only way to stop people from drinking and driving is through education not punishment. Instead of jail time or community service, offenders should be ordered to complete an in-patient rehab. It’ll allow them to see that they have a problem and give them tools to fix it. And instead of community service, which trust me not much gets done, counties could be paying people to do it and in turn they will do a much better job and it’ll help the economy.

  5. DUI offenders should be credited by serving appropriate community service activities. Giving them credit by the acts that they do within their comfort zone may not produce good results. Supervised activities ordered by the court should be the basis for the credits to be awarded to them.

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