Tougher Punishments for First DUI Offenders.


Habitual dui offenders are a hazard to the highways. In an effort to decrease the percentage of rising repeat offenders, it has become necessary to enforce tougher punishments for first time offenders.


About one third of all drivers arrested for dui are repeat offenders, and one in eight drunk drivers in fatal crashes has had a dui charge within the past three years.(www.MADD.org) Repeat offenders are more likely than other drivers to take part in a fatal accident.


Four times as many Americans died in drunken driving crashes as were killed in the Vietnam War.(www.dms-lawyers.com) 7,400 people are killed every year in alcohol related accidents. This means that there is one death every 30 minutes.275, 000 people are injured or disfigured and one third of these victims are children. (USA December 31 2003) There has been an estimated 9,327 deaths due to dui so far this year. (www.MADD.org)


Alcohol related crashes cost an estimated 45 billion dollars yearly and an additional 70.5 billion is lost in quality of life. The state of South Carolina lost an estimated 1.6 million dollars in lost wages, medical bills, and death benefits. (www.state.com)


Families have suffered the lost of love ones due to repeat offenders and also first time offenders. There was an article in the Detroit News about a drunk driver who killed an eighty six year old retired tool man. The driver had been convicted nine times for dui within the past year prior to the accident. A crash on July 5, 2000 claimed the life of a twenty-eight year old man from New Jersey. He was on his way home from the grocery store when he was hit head on and killed instantly by a repeat offender. He had a four day old baby boy at home who will now grow up with out his father, not even memories of him.


First time offenders usually receive no jail time but in some cases they may receive 24 to48 hours in jail. First time offenders could have their license suspended, but in most cases they can commit to attending a treatment program that will allow them to keep their drivers license. Those offenders that do have their license suspended continue to drive. Fines of up to $250 is also a form of punishment for first time offenders.


People should submit new ideas for tougher punishments to their state legislature. New ideas such as:



o First time offenders having their license suspended for 2 years.
o Dui drivers that drive with a suspended license should receive a mandatory jail sentence of 2 years.
o Vehicles should be confiscated for 90 days.
o Eliminate the programs that allow drunk drivers to keep their license by entering treatment programs.
o First time offenders should spend time with family members that have lost love ones due to dui related accidents.
Would first time murders be given a slap on the wrist the way first time dui offenders are given? They endanger lives just as a killer with a gun. If our legal punishments where tougher on first time offenders there would not be so many repeat offenders on our streets, and thousands of deaths and non-fatal injuries would be prevented each year.



Reference:


Desson, Moses, & Sheinoff (2003) Information About Driving Under The Influence. Retrieved online July 9, 2004 at www.dms-lawyers.com


Dodell R.A. Attorneys at Law. Driving Under The Influence.Retrieved online from Robert A. Dodell’s website www.azcrimlaw.com


“ Driving Under the Influence.”Retrieved online July 9, 2004 at www.macelaws.com


Heath B. (2003, March 30) Bad Drivers An Epidemic Ignored.


The Detriot News. Retrieved July 9. 2004 from www.detnews.com


Mothers against Drunk Driving web site. Retrived onling July 11, 2004 at www.MADD.org.


“Panel Urges Tougher Drunk Driving Laws”


Alcoholism Report May 95, vol. 3 issue 5 p5 2p.