Drunk Driving

Drunk Driving - 10/03/08

Jeff: Much too often we hear about tragic accidents caused by a drunk driver. And much too often we hear that these drivers had previous DUI convictions, yet were permitted to continue driving. You may recall a story we covered about an 11 time convicted drunk driver who was driving drunk and struck and killed two college students. Ohio has just adopted a new law against drunk drivers that is a major step in trying to stop repeat offenders. Here to explain is attorney Michael Solomon.

Jeff: What makes this law different from past efforts to stop drunk drivers?

Mike: There are three major changes under the new law:

1. First, mandatory testing: One of the major problems for police officers and prosecutors has been a drunk driver's refusal to take the breath alcohol test. This has made it harder to prove they were driving under the influence in court. Under the new law, if a person has two or more prior convictions for driving under the influence in the last six years, or five convictions over the last 20 years, or a prior felony related to drunk driving, the officer can force the person to take a blood test.

2. Second, publicity: Under the new law, after a person's fifth conviction of any DUI offense, that person's name, date of birth, address and picture will be posted on a state registry and an internet data base of drunk drivers.

3. Third, alcoholism rehabilitation: Under the new law, on your second conviction, the court can require you to be assessed for an alcohol and drug problem. You can be ordered to follow the recommendations, including going through rehabilitation.

Jeff: But even with all of these changes what's to stop the driver from just repeating it all over again when he is released.

Mike: The court can require that repeat offenders have an ignition locking device so that the car won't start unless they breathe into a device to show they are not drunk when they start the car. The new law also provides that if the repeat offender uses another car or breaks the device, the court can order the person to wear a monitoring device to see if he is drinking.

Jeff: We all know the court system is slow. What if a repeat offender is arrested but his trial is months away. Could he be on the road again, putting everyone's lives in danger?

Mike: If someone has already been convicted of more than two violations and has been arrested again, the court may prohibit the person from drinking and require him to wear a monitor until he is found innocent or guilty of the latest accusation.

Jeff: With over 33,000 drunk drivers with 5 or more convictions, hopefully this new law will help protect the rest of us.