Name, Date of Birth, Sex and DUI Convictions on Oklahoma Driver's Licenses?
By: Gerri L. Elder
Being convicted of DUI certainly is not a fun thing, but generally a person can pay their fine, do their time and complete any court ordered alcohol treatment or education programs and community service and start to put it behind them. However, an Oklahoma lawmaker feels that it shouldn't be quite that simple to put a DUI conviction in the past.
Democratic Representative Scott Inman of Del City has authored a bill that would have drunk driving convictions noted on Oklahoma driver's licenses. The bill calls for any Oklahoma DUI conviction to be noted on the offender's driver's license after the first DUI conviction, and the notation would remain on the driver's license for up to four years. After four years it could be removed, but only if the person has not had another Oklahoma drunk driving conviction during that time.
Inman said that the measure is geared as a deterrent to drunk drivers and is designed to reduce the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in the state. He notes that 39 percent of the traffic fatalities in Oklahoma were alcohol-related in 2005. Of the 16,885 alcohol-related deaths in Oklahoma during that year, 85 percent involved a driver with a blood-alcohol content of .08 percent or higher.
If Inman's bill is passed, any Oklahoma resident with a DUI conviction in the past four years would be forced to reveal that conviction when cashing a check, boarding a plane, entering a bar, buying cigarettes or any of the other times when their driver's license is used as identification or as proof of age.
One of Inman's arguments for passing the bill is that it would alert bars that the person has a previous drunk driving conviction. However, unless the doorman were to communicate this specific information to the bartender each time he were to see a previous DUI conviction notation on a driver's license, it would make little difference. There are already laws against over-serving patrons at bars anyway, so doesn't Inman's logic seem a bit redundant?
If the fact that injury or death could occur doesn't deter a person from driving drunk, and the possibility of being arrested doesn't cross their mind before getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, it seems pretty unlikly that the fact that they will be outed as a drunk driver on their driver's license for four years will be much of a deterrent for DUI.
Instead of being a deterrent, the law seems more likely to be a measure to extend the punishment for a DUI conviction for four years. Since no one really plans to be arrested and convicted of DUI, it seems absurd to believe that an intoxicated person would stop themselves from driving at the thought of a DUI conviction being noted on their driver's license.
If this law is passed, it will certainly serve as an extra dose of humiliation to those who have made the mistake of driving while intoxicated and wish to put it behind them. However, to claim that it would be an effective deterrent to DUI is quite a stretch on Inman's part.