Lawmakers are considering tightening up the state’s laws against driving under the influence after two recent cases that left three dead and two, including an infant, critically injured.
Rep. Roger Goodman held a work group meeting Tuesday morning to discuss a variety of ideas to stop more impaired drivers. The working group comprised more than 20 people, including judges, attorneys, law enforcement, and victims of impaired drivers.
Ideas discussed at the meeting included making driving under the influence a felony on the third or fourth conviction, rather than the current law that has it at five within 10 years. Also discussed were lifetime driving bans after a certain number of DUIs, roadside sobriety checkpoints and mandatory installment of interlock devices installed on cars after someone is charged, rather than convicted.
Goodman noted the significant costs that would be associated with lowering the felony threshold, saying that lowering it to the third conviction would cost about $200 million for construction of a new prison to confine the number of drunken drivers.
“These proposals are tough in our current fiscal climate,” he said. Lawmakers are nearing the end of a 105-day legislative session where they are tasked with balancing a budget deficit of more than $1.2 billion while adding more money to the state’s basic education system.
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