Law to improve prosecution of repeat DUIs takes effect today

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (KSWO) – House Bill 3146, a law to aid prosecutors in keeping drunk drivers off the road, takes effect November 1st.

"This law is ultimately about protecting the lives of Oklahoma motorists," said Rep. Sanders, R-Kingfisher. "I'm excited to see where this takes us in being able to reduce drunk driving in our state in the coming years."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2010 Oklahoma ranked as the 46th worst state for impaired driving deaths and the 51st (including states and territories) for improvement over the previous 10-year period (NHTSA, 2012).

"The number of drunk-driving offenses is a black eye on our state. This law is about public safety; it gives an important new tool to prosecutors to be able to better flag and appropriately prosecute repeat drunk drivers, and that will save lives," said Rep. Sanders, R-Kingfisher

The Impaired Driving Elimination Act (IDEA) and will move all DUI case from municipal non-courts of record to a court of record. Municipal non-courts of record previously allowed drivers with multiple DUI arrests to be treated in many cases as first-time offenders and receive only minimal punishment under the law, meaning they could potentially reoffend.

"Drunk driving can result in terrible tragedy and repeat drunk drivers are among the most dangerous," said Rep. Scott Biggs, R-Chickasha, a former prosecutor. "This legislation fixes a system in which many repeat offenders were flying under the radar and allows us to catch more of them."

The law would allow any municipality with a population of 60,000 or more would have the option to create a court of record. With, arresting municipalities still receiving a portion of the fines.

"This is the most significant advancement made in recent history in making our streets and highways safer from drunk or impaired drivers," said state Rep. Ben Loring, D-Miami. "It closes a huge gaping hole in the area of public safety. Representative Sanders and Senator Treat deserve credit for leading on this issue. This law will save lives."

The new law adds a database so that from this point forward every DUI on every city street, county road or state highway is recorded. And, it allows district attorneys the option of developing assessments and treatment plans for offenders.

"This legislation marks a watershed in the history of impaired driving in Oklahoma, by creating accountability for every impaired driving arrest in Oklahoma and providing law enforcement with a much needed tool to identify those individuals who are repeat impaired driving offenders.  This is a critical piece of the puzzle in our efforts to reduce the incidence of impaired driving related traffic crashes in Oklahoma," Toby Taylor, Chairman of the Governor's Impaired Driving Prevention Advisory Council, said.

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