Defense attorneys have followed through on a threat to challenge El Cajon municipal judges' practice of requiring many people accused of drunk driving to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings if they wish to remain out of jail before trial without posting bond.
The Criminal Defense Lawyers Club filed a class action petition asking the San Diego County Superior Court to order the municipal judges to halt the practice.
Most judges in the El Cajon court have required AA attendance for repeat drunk-driving offenders and first-time defendants with alleged blood alcohol levels above 0.2% if they want to be released from jail pending trial without posting bond.
The judges say a sober defendant is less likely to miss court appearances or commit more offenses pending disposition of a case. But the defense lawyers say the attendance requirement is tantamount to declaring suspects guilty before they have had their day in court.
Judges in the county's other municipal courts use attendance at AA meetings only as a post-conviction rehabilitation tool.