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Published on Friday, April 26, 2013

Legislators propose a variety of changes to DUI law, but pace has slowed

Last week, the Governor and Legislature introduced new DUI legislation in response to recent tragedies involving drunk drivers. Versions of the bills, HB 2030 and SB 5912, were heard last week in committee and scheduled for executive action this week. There have since been multiple versions of the two bills under consideration.

AWC and county representatives have expressed strong concerns about the increased local costs associated with the proposals, especially from increased mandatory minimum jail sentences. We are very concerned about the expectations that the new provisions create and our ability to meet those expectations without necessary funding. We have been telling the Legislature and Governor’s office that they must find a way to fund these new local costs or we won’t be able to be achieve their goals of reducing DUI and related crimes.

A variety of legislators and stakeholders have expressed concern that these are complex and costly proposals that should not be rushed through the legislative process. While there seems to be a commitment to take some action, there has been a move away from trying to pass something in the final few days of the regular session. We fully expect that this discussion will continue into the expected special session and we will continue to be fully engaged in the conversation.

A few statistics of note:

  • There were about 35,000 DUI cases in 2012. About 4,500 were repeat offenses.
  • Cities accounted for about 13,000 of those cases, or around 37%.
  • The per se legal limit is a BAC of .08.
  • There is a mandatory 12-hour vehicle impound upon any DUI arrest.
  • The current mandatory minimum sentence for a second-time offender with a BAC under .15 is 30 days in jail and 60 days of electronic home monitoring; for an offender with a BAC over .15, it is 45 days in jail and 90 days of electronic home monitoring.
  • The fifth DUI in a seven-year period becomes a felony crime.
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