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Legislation allowing the driver's licenses of California's chronic drunken drivers to be revoked for 10 years was signed today by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Implementation of Assembly Bill 1601 will be delayed for one year, however, so it will take effect in January 2012.

Schwarzenegger hailed the measure by Democratic Assemblyman Jerry Hill of San Mateo as a lifesaver.

"Those who have multiple DUI convictions should not be on the road threatening lives," Schwarzenegger said in a written statement.

AB 1601 will permit judges to impose a 10-year license revocation on motorists convicted or three drunken driving offenses within a 10-year period. Current law allows a three-year revocation.

California recorded 187,987 drunken driving convictions in 2008, of which 9,164 were three-time offenders within a 10-year period, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Schwarzenegger noted that drunken drivers killed more than 1,000 people and injured another 28,000 in 2008, the most recent year for which figures are available.

AB 1601 received bipartisan support from the Legislature.


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