Wyoming DUI Bill Aims To Bolster Penalties for Offenders with Children in Their Vehicles
By: Mike Stetzer
Being charged and convicted of drunk driving may result in serious DUI penalties which could be increased if children are present in the car, as evident in proposed Wyoming DUI legislation already approved by that state's Senate.
The proposed Wyoming DUI law would mandate that first-time offenders be charged with a high misdemeanor and face up to a year in prison. Current DUI law in the state allows a maximum of six months in jail for first-time offenders.
As for second-time offenders, this Wyoming DUI legislation could lead to a felony conviction and up to five years in prison. A conviction of DUI under this Wyoming bill could also result in offenders being listed on child abuse registries.
Specifically, a Wyoming DUI conviction under this proposed law would prompt an allegation of child abuse, according to Paul Yaksic, a Department of Family Services Administrator. Yaksic then said that a determination of guilt of abuse or neglect would be required before the offender would be placed on a child abuse registry.
This proposed Wyoming DUI legislation would define child passengers as people under the age of 16. The bill's sponsor, Senator Tony Ross of Cheyenne, said in an Associated Press story in the Billings Gazette that the purpose of this Wyoming DUI bill is to protect minors in the state who often do not have a voice and are placed in harm's way by someone else.
Ross said that the Wyoming governor's council asked him to pursue this DUI bill in 2007 after it failed last year. This DUI bill has moved to the floor of the Wyoming House of Representatives for more consideration.
Law enforcement officials have applauded this Wyoming DUI bill as a means to protect children unable to determine who drives them places. One Police Sergeant in the story said she could not count the number of times she's pulled over drivers on suspicion of DUI while children were present in the vehicle. Laramie Police Department Sergeant Jonlee Anderle further explained how difficult it is for a child to see a police offer arrest his or her parent for DUI.
This Wyoming DUI bill would aim to reduce such traumatic experiences by making drivers aware of the penalties of operating a motor vehicle with children while under the influence of alcohol. According to police representatives in the story, these types of Wyoming DUI cases involving drivers with children present in the car have neither increased nor decreased.
This Wyoming DUI legislation serves as just another good example of the crackdown on DUI throughout the United States and further reveals the importance of understanding how a DUI can impact not only your life but also the lives of other people involved in many other ways.
Besides the possibility of life-changing or even fatal drunk driving accidents involving innocent children, DUI could carry jail time with the potential of a prison term for the offender and a figurative sentence for that person's children, who may be left without an important parental influence for years in certain instances.