Oklahoma Bill Would Prevent DUI Offenders from Buying Alcohol13-Mar-2017
There is no question that DUI is a dangerous problem. Each year in the United States, approximately 10,000 people are killed in alcohol-impaired driving accidents. DUI deaths make up nearly a third of all traffic deaths. In Oklahoma alone, nearly 200 people die each year in DUI crashes, and more than 2,000 people are injured in these wrecks.
It is particularly frustrating to those who have been injured or lost loved ones in DUI accidents when they learn that the alcohol-impaired driver who caused the crash is a repeat DUI offender.
After a young mother and an exchange student were killed in a New Year's Eve DUI crash with a repeat offender, one Oklahoma lawmaker proposed a bill that would strengthen restrictions against DUI drivers, making it much more difficult to have a repeat offense.
Rep. John Enns, R-Enid, has authored a bill aimed at preventing drivers convicted of DUI from consuming alcohol at all. House Bill 1605 would be named the Debra Reed and Amanda Carson Act.
Amanda Carson, 37, of Yukon, was killed on the Kilpatrick Turnpike on New Year's Eve when a car driven by a man with at least 4 prior DUI arrests slammed into the back of her vehicle.
Debra Reed, 58, of Edmond, was killed in August 2013 in a crash with an impaired driver on North Portland Avenue. The 20-year-old woman who caused the accident had a prior DUI conviction and was driving with a suspended license.
Under the bill, drivers who are convicted of DUI, even as a first offense, would be ordered to abstain from alcohol consumption for a period of three years.
Additionally, they would be required to get a special "alcohol-restricted" driver's license. Retail stores and restaurants that sell or serve alcohol would be prohibited from providing a person with an alcohol-restricted license with alcohol. Anyone who sells or furnishes alcohol to a person prohibited from consuming alcohol as a result of DUI conviction would face criminal penalties.
This is not the first time such a bill has been presented to the legislature, but past efforts have been struck down as unenforceable and too aggressive at a time when the state is already grappling with criminal justice reform. Others say the bill is simply too harsh for first offenders.
It seems unlikely that "forbidding" alcohol consumption by a DUI offender would reduce the likelihood of repeat DUI any more than suspending a license or requiring ignition interlock would. After all, the young woman who slammed into Reed's car was driving with a suspended license--driving even though she was "forbidden" from doing so. And the man who crashed into Carson and her family was ordered to use ignition interlock to prevent impaired driving--but he just borrowed someone else's car. Would telling them they couldn't drink really have kept them from doing so?
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