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Myles Berman and Peter Tilden Podcast Part 2

Peter Tilden: I’m curious to get Myles’s take on this too, Assemblyman. The lock that is used, that we can’t drive until you blow into that? A) What is your take on that? I’m guessing, why can’t somebody else blow into that for you or beat that?

Myles Berman:  Is that to me?

Peter: Yeah. Well, it’s to whoever.

Myles Berman:  Oh. OK. Well, if I may take my turn. The ignition interlock device, there’s a lot of problems with them. First of all, if you got a housewife who’s convicted of DUI, it’s a family car. So there’s more than one person that’s driving the car. So, if the guy or the child is driving the car to school or to pick up friends, now you’ve got this ignition interlock device that’s been placed in the car for the whole world to see. Now the family’s being punished. It’s like a scarlet letter.

The Legislature has tried, I’m sure the Assemblyman will confirm this, has tried over the years to have people who are convicted of DUI, have that announced on their license plates, so everybody knows.

Secondly, ignition interlock devices don’t always work, and they break down. In other words, sometimes when people are driving, they require the people to give a sample and the machine doesn’t work. People can be stuck in the middle of nowhere. It’s just, for first offenders, it’s just way, way too drastic.

Peter: So, what’s the alternative, Myles, for a first offender?

MylesBerman:  Well, there’s an argument that many DUI first offenders should be decriminalized, only because the consequences are so severe. When somebody gets arrested for DUI and convicted of a first offense, especially in Southern California, where there is no public transportation, they can lose their job, their home, their driver’s license, their reputation. It has gotten so‑ and I tip my hat off to organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, who’ve been able to convince the legislatures, first the Congress and then having Congress force the states to lower their alcohol levels.

So, the real issue here is how do you stop drunk driving? In my opinion, the only way to do that is prohibition. And I don’t think that’s going to fly.

Peter: Assemblyman, are you ready to go that route?

Assemblyman Hill: No, I’m not. It didn’t work in the ’30s and I don’t think it’s going to work now. If you look at the substance abuse that we have, 70 to 80 percent of all prisoners in state prison and in county jails, are there for one reason, substance abuse, either using, buying, selling, or stealing to pay for.

Peter: OK. We’ve got to wrap up. But let me ask you a question, Assemblymen. The first test would be, I guess, Assembly Committees on Public Safety and Judiciary have to talk about this. And if they approve it, then…

Assemblyman Hill: Then it would go to the full floor of the assembly for a vote. If it passes there, it would go then to the Senate for the same process, Public Safety and Judiciary Committees there, full floor of the Senate and then to the Governor.

Peter: So, what’s your sense? You’re sniffing around up there, what’s your sense?

Assemblyman Hill: So far, I think it’s good. I had about an hour on the floor on Monday to gather signatures of coauthors and was able to accumulate quite a few. So, I think it’s going to move fine and I’m just hoping. So, it looks good!

Peter: By the way, do you drink?

Assemblyman Hill: I drink socially, sure.

Peter: Would you make sure before you get in the car what your level is.

Assemblyman Hill: Absolutely. Well, I know that I’m not going to go ahead and drive if I’ve been drinking.

Myles Berman:  Let me just add real quick, nobody knows what their alcohol level is after they’re drinking. That’s the problem. DUI is one of the few crimes, if not the only crime, where people don’t know whether or not they’re under the influence. They may feel it, but nobody knows what their alcohol level is if they have two, three, or four drinks within an hour or two.

Assemblyman Hill: That’s a good point Myles. Perhaps there should be a resurgence or new sales of breathalyzers, that you can pick up for under $100 in many cases.

Myles Berman:  If the government’s, excuse me, I didn’t mean to interrupt you.

Assemblyman Hill: No, that’s all right, Myles.

Myles Berman:  If the government’s breath test machines aren’t reliable, how could somebody have confidence in those other $100…

Peter: By the way, is that an accurate statement, Assemblymen, that the government’s machines are not reliable?

Assemblyman Hill: Not that I’ve seen or heard, but I think that Myles is probably a better position…

Peter: Myles, is that something that’s proven?

Myles Berman:  A perfect example is, if somebody gets arrested for DUI, and they have say a .14 and a .16, and it sounds really bad, or a .16 and a .14. That’s almost twice the legal limit and twice the legal limit, but in reality, it’s scientifically impossible to go from a .16 to a .14 two minutes apart. So, using the example, the results themselves, you can tell they’re unreliable. There’s a whole host of other reasons why they’re not reliable, but that’s just basic a common sense example, but…

Peter: Guys, we got to go. Myles O. Berman, thanks for calling in and taking up your side of the issue. It’s interesting to hear. And thank you, Assemblyman. We’ll follow this bill and see if it passes.

Myles Berman:  Thank you very much and nice to meet you, Mr. Assemblyman.

Assemblyman Hill: Thank you. My pleasure, Myles.

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