DUI charges across the country are starting to recede, and that’s great news for everyone. A report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that DUI charges have declined by almost a third since 2007 and that the trend should continue for the foreseeable future.
No one is going to fight these great statistics, but why are DUIs dropping when the general population grows every day? Society treats DUIs much than they did even twenty years ago, but many point to harsher DUI penalties as a large part of this downward trend. The state legislature of Oklahoma seems to agree with the latter reason.
New legislation recently passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives in an 82-6 vote that aims to raise the bar for DUI offenders. House Bill 1605, proposed by Representative John Enns, gives courts the power to order a person convicted of DUI to abstain from alcohol for a period following their conviction.
The law also takes aim at drinking and driving by underage offenders. If a person under the age of 21 is convicted of DUI, they could have their license suspended until they turn 21 as well as have an interlock device installed on their vehicle.
The legislation issued by Enns is meant to reduce DUIs in the whole state, but the bill does from a specific tragedy. “This legislation is in honor of two women, Debra Reed and Amanda Carson, who lost their lives because of people who were driving under the influence of alcohol,” said Enns. “It’s an absolute shame people are still being killed in this way. This legislation shows that Oklahoma is trying to stop this serious crime.”
Oklahoma is not the only state stepping up its DUI penalties. Florida is considering legislation to force first-time DUI offenders to have interlock systems installed while Utah lowered the threshold for DUI blood alcohol content (BAC) from .08 to .05.
“I’m honored, and humbled family and friends of both Debra Reed and Amanda Carson were able to be in the gallery during the legislation’s passage. As a representative, I’m charged with making Oklahoma a safer place for everyone, and this bill does just that,” said Enns.
With overwhelming support from Oklahoma’s House, the bill now heads over to the Oklahoma Senate for consideration.