Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

City Considers Billing Drunk Drivers

January 22, 1992|ERIC MALNIC

A City Council committee on Tuesday ordered the drafting of an ordinance that could bring the city as much as $2.7 million a year by billing drunk drivers for police, fire, paramedic and laboratory costs related to their arrests.

The council's Intergovernmental Relations Committee also asked the city attorney's office to suggest amendments to state legislation that would permit recovery of the costs of jailing drunk drivers. Experts said, however, that there may be constitutional barriers to such amendments.

In its study of the proposed ordinance, the city legislative analyst's office noted that several California cities have drafted laws authorized under 1985 state legislation permitting the recovery of "reasonable costs" incurred during "emergency responses" related to drunk driving arrests.

The city of San Jose, for example, currently charges drunk drivers who can afford it about $150 for police, fire and laboratory services rendered during their arrests.

Officials said there were more than 18,000 drunk driving convictions in Los Angeles last year. Charging drunk drivers for their jail costs is a thornier issue.

The legislative analyst's office noted that current state law does not permit the recovery of such costs on a mandatory basis, although drunk drivers pay as much as $200 a day to serve their time at the jails of their choice.

Officials said there appear to be constitutional impediments to recovering the costs of drunk driving sentences served at jails selected by the court, rather than the driver. Tuesday's motions by Councilman John Ferraro were sent to the city attorney's office on a 2-0 vote by Ferraro and Councilman Ernani Bernardi. Councilwoman Rita Walters, the third member of the committee, was not present.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|