New Wyoming DUI Laws Include Legislation Boosting Penalties for Convicted Offenders with Children in Vehicles
By: Mike Stetzer
A new Wyoming bill bolstering DUI penalties for convicted offenders with children in their cars at the time of arrest has been signed into law, along with several other pieces of legislation.
On February 21st, Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal signed SF25, DUI legislation creating higher penalties for drivers 18 and over after being convicted of drunk driving with a child under 16 in the vehicle upon being arrested.
Specifically, this new Wyoming DUI law makes first-time offenders subject to six months to up to a year of imprisonment for a standard DUI conviction. A second offense is now considered a felony and punishable by up to five years in prison according to this new Wyoming DUI law.
Laramie Police Sergeant Jonlee Anderlee described this new Wyoming DUI law in a recent online Laramie Boomerang story as being all "about protecting children." Anderlee, who is also a member of the Governor's Council on Impaired Driving, added that this law protects children from not only the physical danger of being around an impaired driver but also the emotional damage which may ensue and endure when the intoxicated driver is a parent or guardian.
While Anderlee admitted that there has not been an increase in these types of incidents in the state, he added that any adult who drives drunk with kids in the car is an "unacceptable risk." He said the message of this new Wyoming DUI law is quite clear: if you're going to drive drunk, don't do it with your children in the car.
Prior to being signed by Governor Freudenthal, this Wyoming DUI legislation was first approved by the Senate with a 29-0-1 vote. The House also approved this Wyoming DUI bill in striking fashion with a 59-1 vote.
Other New Wyoming DUI Legislation to Know About!
The Wyoming Legislature and Governor Freudenthal has been busy this New Year with other pieces of alcohol-related legislation.
HB65, signed February 16th, makes it illegal for anyone who tries to defraud a drug or alcohol screening test. The story says that anyone found guilty of this new crime will be subject to six months in prison and/or a $750 fine. Anderlee said this new Wyoming law applies more to probation and parole officers than police officers since people under probation may try to alter or defraud their required urine samples. Prior to its signing, this Wyoming legislation was approved in the House by a 57-3 vote and the Senate by a 26-2-2 vote.
SF69, signed February 22, changes the penalty for an intoxicated driver who seriously injures another person while driving under the influence. Once a misdemeanor, this offense is now considered a felony according to this new Wyoming DUI law. Specifically, this new Wyoming DUI law states than any convicted DUI offender involved in an accident which causes "serious bodily injury" to another person can be sent to prison for up to 10 years and/or fined no less than $2,000 and no more than $5,000. Anderlee called the change from this Wyoming DUI legislation, which was approved 50-10 in the House and 27-2-1 in the Senate, "a long time coming."
SF33, signed February 28th, prohibits anyone from having an open container of alcohol in a moving vehicle.
HB251, not signed yet, has been sitting on Governor Freudenthal's desk since February 28th. This Wyoming DUI legislation reinforces that driving under the influence applies to not only alcohol but also drugs by clarifying the types of tests which can be used to determine if a driver is under the influence upon being arrested. The story detailed that previous legislation allowed the driver to choose the type of test-breath, urine or blood-to be administered. Anderlee called this Wyoming DUI bill "corrective legislation" which will allow law enforcement to test what they'll need in court.