BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     AB 534


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          Date of Hearing:  April 28, 2015
          Chief Counsel:     Gregory Pagan

                         ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY


                                  Bill Quirk, Chair





          AB  
                    534 (Linder) - As Introduced  February 23, 2015



                              MOTION TO RECONSIDER ONLY
          

          SUMMARY:  Requires the court to suspend the driving privilege  
          for six months of any person who pleads guilty or nolo  
          contendere to hit and run with property damage if the charge is  
          a substitute or in satisfaction of the charge of hit and run  
          resulting in injury or death.  Specifically, this bill:  

          1)Provides that if the prosecution agrees to a plea of guilty or  
            nolo contendere to a charge of leaving the scene of an  
            accident resulting in property damage without stopping and  
            properly identifying himself or herself, in satisfaction of,  
            or a substitute for the charge of leaving the scene of an  
            accident resulting in injury or death without stopping and  
            properly identifying himself or herself, the prosecutor shall  
            state for the record the factual basis for the satisfaction or  
            substitution, including whether the defendant was involved in  
            accident in which a person was struck.

          2)States that if the court accepts the defendant's plea of  
            guilty or nolo contendere to a charge of leaving the scene of  
            an accident resulting in property damage without stopping and  
            properly identifying himself or herself, and the prosecutor's  
            states that the driver of the vehicle was involved in an  








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            accident where a person was struck, the court shall  
            immediately suspend the convicted driver's privilege to  
            operate a motor vehicle for a period of six months.

          EXISTING LAW:  

          1)Provides that a court may suspend, for not more than six  
            months, the privilege of a person  to operate a motor vehicle  
            upon conviction of any of the following offenses:

             a)   Failure of a driver involved in an accident where  
               property is damaged to stop and exchange specified  
               information;

             b)   Reckless driving proximately causing bodily injury;

             c)   Failure of a driver to stop at a railroad crossing as  
               required;

             d)   Evading or fleeing from a peace officer in a motor  
               vehicle or upon a bicycle; and, 

             e)   Knowingly causing or participating in a vehicular  
               collision, or any other vehicular accident, for the purpose  
               of presenting or causing to be presented any false or  
               fraudulent insurance claim.  (Veh. Code, 13201.)   

          2)States that the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) immediately  
            shall revoke the privilege of a person to operate a motor  
            vehicle upon receipt of a duly certified abstract of the  
            record of a court showing that the person has been convicted  
            of any of the following crimes or offenses:

             a)   Failure of the driver of a vehicle involved in an  
               accident resulting in injury or death to stop or otherwise  
               comply, as specified;

             b)   A felony in which a motor vehicle is used, except as  
               specified; and,

             c)   Reckless driving causing bodily injury.  (Veh. Code,   
               13350, subd. (a).)








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          3)Provides that the driver of any vehicle involved in an  
            accident resulting in damage to any property, including a  
            vehicle, shall immediately stop the vehicle and exchange  
            information, as specified, or leave in a conspicuous place on  
            the vehicle or other property damaged written notice giving  
            the name and address of the driver of the vehicle involved.   
            The failure to comply with these requirements is a misdemeanor  
            punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed six  
            months, or by a fine not to exceed $1,000, or by both a fine  
            and imprisonment.  (Veh. Code,  20002.)

          4)Requires the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident  
            resulting in injury to any person, other than himself or  
            herself, or in the death of any person to immediately stop the  
            vehicle at the scene of the accident and to fulfill specified  
            requirements.  The failure to comply is a punishable by  
            imprisonment in the state prison for16 months, two, or three  
            years or, by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one  
            year, or by a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than  
            $10,000, or by both a fine and imprisonment.  If the accident  
            results in death or permanent, serious injury, the offense is  
            punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three,  
            or four years, or in a county jail for not less than 90 days  
            nor more than one year, or by a fine of not less than $1,000  
            nor more than $10,000, or by both a fine and imprisonment.    
            (Veh. Code,  20001, subds. (a) & (b).)

          5)Provides that a person who flees the scene of the crime after  
            committing vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence or  
            vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, upon conviction for  
            that offense, in addition and consecutive to the punishment  
            prescribed, shall be punished by an additional term of  
            imprisonment of five years in the state prison.  Existing law  
            provides that this additional term shall not be imposed unless  
            the allegation is charged in the accusatory pleading and  
            admitted by the defendant or found to be true by the trier of  
            fact.  (Veh. Code,  20001, subd. (c).)  

          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown

          COMMENTS:  








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          1)Author's Statement:  According to the author, "AB 534 adds  
            Section 13200.3 of the Vehicle Code to help reduce the number  
            of hit-and-run accidents, while prioritizing highway safety  
            and protecting victims.  This bill addresses hit-and-run  
            drivers who commit an offense punishable by a mandatory one  
            year license revocation, but get to keep their licenses after   
             entering into a plea bargain.  AB 534 ensures that this will  
            no longer happen by granting prosecuting agencies the  
            flexibility to plea bargain a hit-and-run with injury down to  
            a hit-and-run with property damage while ensuring a mandatory  
            six month license suspension."

          2)Argument in Support:  The Association of California Highway  
            Patrolmen argues, "Under current law hit and run accidents are  
            classified into three categories: (1) a misdemeanor  
            hit-and-run with property damage, (2) a wobbler hit-and-run  
            involving other injury, and (3) a wobbler hit and run  
            involving serious injury or death. A level one conviction is  
            subject to a six month license suspension; however, it is at  
            the discretion of the court. 

            "This bill would revise these provisions and make the six  
            month suspension mandatory.

            "Hit and run accidents are becoming more prevalent.  Current  
            penalties do not reflect the seriousness of the crime and  
            therefore do not act as an effective deterrent.  AB 534 would  
            change the law to make hit and run drivers more accountable  
            for their actions, in the hopes of reducing the number of  
            accidents."

          3)Argument in Opposition:  The American Civil Liberties Union  
            argues, "AB 534 would require courts to immediately suspend,  
            for six months, the driving privilege of any defendant who  
            pleads guilty or nolo contendere to a violation of Vehicle  
            Code section 20002 (failure to comply with specified  
            requirements in accidents resulting only in damage to  
            property)  which was originally charged as a violation of  
            Vehicle Section 20001(failure to comply with specified  
            requirements in accidents resulting in injury to a person)  
            when the prosecution states for the record that the person was  








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            involved in an accident where a person was struck.

          "However, under current law, courts already have within their  
            discretion the ability to suspend for six months, the driver's  
            privilege of any defendant convicted of a violation of Vehicle  
            Code section 20002 - regardless of whether a defendant was  
            involved in an accident where a person was struck (Vehicle  
            Code section 13201).  By requiring courts to immediately  
            suspend driver's privileges in all cases in which a defendant  
            is convicted of a violation of Vehicle Code section 20002  
            under the circumstances described by the bill, AB 534  
            unnecessarily and improperly strips courts of their  
            discretion."

          4)Prior Legislation: 
          
             a)    AB 1532 (Gatto), of the 2013-14 Legislative Session,  
               would have required that the privilege to operate a motor  
               vehicle shall be suspended for six months for any person  
               convicted of being a driver of a vehicle involved in an  
               accident where a person is struck, but not injured, and the  
               driver of the vehicle leaves the scene of the accident  
               without exchanging required information, as specified.  AB  
               1532 was vetoed by the Governor.

             b)   AB 2337 (Linder), of the 2013-14 Legislative Session,  
               would have increased from one to two years the mandatory  
               suspension of the privilege to operate a motor vehicle for  
               any person convicted of leaving the scene of an accident  
               resulting in injury or death without exchanging required  
               identification information.  AB 2337 was vetoed by the  
               Governor. 







          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:

          Support








                                                                     AB 534


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          Association of California Highway Patrolmen
          Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs 
          Los Angeles Police Protective League
          Riverside Sheriffs' Association
          Crime Victims United of California 
          American Motorcyclist Association
          City of Torrance
          Walk & Bike Mendocino

          Opposition
          
          California Public Defenders Association
          American Civil Liberties Union
          California Attorneys for Criminal Justice
          Analysis Prepared  
          by:              Gregory Pagan / PUB. S. / (916) 319-3744