There's a new DUI law in Oklahoma, which the governor signed into law at the end of last month. It was touted as a big step toward doing away with drunk driving altogether. It was also meant to focus on repeat offenders.
The issue, before the law was passed, is that some people felt loopholes would allow repeat offenders to avoid the proper consequences, essentially letting them slip through the cracks in the system and get back on the road again. This led to more arrests and accidents. A man whose wife was struck by a drunk driver sponsored the bill, after finding out that the driver had multiple previous arrests.
However, according to some, the law is not going to have the intended impact because it is closing a loophole that never existed. An attorney said this could make things worse, rather than solving anything. He pointed out that the cities that were prosecuting the drunk drivers where not following the regulations to begin with, that they were not sending the drivers on to the proper courts. Instead, they were prosecuting them on their own, over and over. The new law says these cases must end up in a court of record.
The issue, the attorney said, comes back to money. The cities look at the money from the cases as revenue, which they now stand to lose. That's why they wanted to take care of them on their own.
One unintended consequence is that they could stop charging people with DUIs. Instead, they could charge them with public intoxication and reckless driving, for example. By doing so, they don't have to pass the case along because it's not a repeat DUI, and they can then prosecute and keep the money coming into the city. They won't lose their revenue, but those who should be given repeat offenses won't be charged with DUIs at all. In that sense, the law may backfire.
It's too soon to know if this type of issue will crop up. It is just one man's opinion. However, it is critical to keep an eye on the statistics to see what changes the law will make in reality -- and if they line up with what was intended.
Know Your Legal Options
It's also important for those who are facing DUI charges to know what legal options they have under the new law. Repeat offenders should pay particularity close attention.
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