Recently Gov. Jack A Markell signed two new bills into law to create stricter DUI penalties for people convicted of a DUI offense in Delaware.
House Bill 152: Increased Fines and Jail Time
House Bill 152 increases DUI fines for subsequent offenders, especially drivers with five previous DUI convictions. The bill also called for increased jail time for subsequent DUI offenders and creating a felony DUI for drivers with six and seven DUI convictions.
Last year there were approximately 6,916 DUI arrests, of which 59 people had been previously arrested at least five other times for drunk driving. Since January of this year, 3,213 drivers have been arrested for DUI, with 40 of those people having five or more previous DUI arrests.
House Bill 177: Strict Penalties for First DUI Offense
The second bill signed into law strengthens penalties for a first time DUI offense if the driver has a blood alcohol level of .15% or higher.
If convicted of a DUI with a BAC of .15%, the period of hard revocation for those who are mandated to have an ignition interlock device is increased from 30 to 45 days.
The driver’s license is suspended for six months instead of three, and the ignition interlock device must be used for six months.
The bill limits driving authority of an ignition interlock device licensed driver to work, home, school, alcohol treatment programs and interlock service provider appointments.
Source: Sussex Countian
State Law Provides Illinois DUI Memorial Signs
Under a new Illinois DUI law, memorial signs for those killed in drunken driving accidents may be requested by the victims’ families. A sign with Caitlin’s name and the date of the accident that took her life was the first to be requested under “Tina’s Law.” The law is named for Tina Ball, a construction worker with seven children who was killed by a drunken driver while working on I-57 during September 2003. Read more.
Study Shows Felony Wisconsin DUI Offenders are Avoiding Prison
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that lawmakers intended to get repeat Wisconsin OWI (DUI) offenders off the road. However, an analysis of Wisconsin DUI sentencing has shown that less than half of the people who are sentenced for fifth-offense drunken-driving in Milwaukee County end up serving time in prison. View the full article.
Drug Testing Drivers Could Become as Simple as Breath Tests
The National Institute of Health has recently released research guidelines that may lead to the development of new testing methods for drug abuse that can be used as routinely as breath tests. These guidelines were published in the August journal Addiction. Read on.
According to WTVH, 70 year-old Charles Hartmann took a detour on his way home September 27. A little before 8pm on Saturday, Hartmann drove his car through his neighbor’s house in Hastings, NY.
He drove through the front of the house, through the living room, into the bedroom and out the back. The total damage is estimated at $50,000.
Hartmann was arrested and charged with felony DUI, reckless driving and others. Luckily, no one was hurt. The owner of the house had stepped out of her bed when she heard the car enter the house.
Police reported that when the tow truck removed the car, the bed was underneath it.
An Elgin, Ill. teenager was acquitted of murder after driving his car into a building while drunk. Brian Poliarny was charged with first-degree murder for the crash which killed his passenger, Roman Pokorny. A second passenger was badly injured in the accident.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Kane County prosecutors had argued that Poliarny had intentionally driven into the building in an attempt to kill himself. Judge Grant Wegner said he acquitted Poliarny of the murder charge because there wasn’t clear evidence the teen had intended to kill himself or his passengers.
Poliarny had already pled guilty to two counts of felony DUI. He faces a maximum 26-year sentence on these charges.
An Arkansas driver being arrested for DUI, decided it might be a good idea to pretend to be his brother. Sebastian Nabor gave police his brother’s name, instead of his own, after he was stopped for DUI. The ruse was discovered when Nabor’s brother arrived to bail him out of jail.
Nabor now faces charges of a second-offense DUI and felony criminal impersonation.
A Rhode Island Senator will propose a new felony DUI law. The Senator’s proposal would make it a felony to be caught driving on a license which has been suspended due to a DUI conviction. Currently, driving on a suspended license warrants an additional 3 month suspension and a fine. A second offense adds another 6 month to a driver’s suspension. A third offense causes revocation of the driver’s license.
The Senator said that “given the state’s status as having the highest percentage of traffic-related deaths caused by drunk drivers, it is clear that additional steps need to be taken.” He wants to get tough on “offenders who are punished with a suspended license simply getting back on the road again in the hope they won’t be stopped.”
Drivers convicted of DUI could also be required to turn in their license plates for the duration of their suspension. Special paper license plates would be issued during the suspension so that police could better identify the vehicle as one that has a driver restriction on it. If a DUI offender is caught driving another vehicle, the license plates for that vehicle would also be confiscated.
Questions often arise as to how long the “look back” period is for purposes of enhancing DUI penalties or elevating DUI charges to felony status.
There’s no easy answer to that question and not only because state laws vary. The number of DUI convictions and the time period considered for enhanced penalties or felony DUI does vary from state to state. However, the realities are even more complex.
In some states, the period runs from date of charge to date of charge–in others, from date of conviction to date of charge. Further, some states have alternate time periods during which a different number of prior convictions qualifies for enhanced penalties or felony treatment.
For instance, in Ohio a drunk driver can be charged with a felony based on four offenses in six years or six offenses in twenty years, meaning that two separate calculations apply to every case.
If you’ve been charged and this is not your first DUI offense, make sure that you talk to a local DUI lawyer and fully understand how the repeat offender statutes apply in your case.
The Illinois DUI law change that took effect in January made all DUI offenses felonies if committed by a driver who lacked either a valid driver’s license or valid automobile insurance at the time of the offense. And now, the criminal court is flooded with new charges.
Lake County anticipates that felony DUI charges in 2006 will double the number filed in 2005 and has hired additional staff to handle the increased caseload.
Other counties have seen similar increases, but have thus far been able to handle the cases by reassigning employees and redistributing the workload.
The full impact of the increased caseload isn’t yet apparent, but Rep. William Black (R-Danville), who sponsored the bill, told the Chicago Tribune that he would ask for revisions if enforcement proved too difficult for judges and prosecutors.