Demas Law Group: New DUI Legislation Implications

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John Demas, a Sacramento accident attorney with Demas Law Group discusses new drunk driving legislation proposed by several states and the implications for both drivers and the victims they injure or kill through this behavior.

New DUI Legislation Implications

While nearly everyone is in favor of harsher punishments for drunk driving, the feasibility of any proposed legislation must be considered.

New OWI laws, as they are known in Wisconsin, propose to treat first-time offenders much more strictly than present statutes. These suggestions have met with applause from some groups and criticism from others.

Skeptics claim that the new laws would overburden already swamped district attorney’s offices and would force the counties to add attorneys simply to prosecute the influx of new cases. However, victims’ advocacy groups hail the measures as long-overdue.
The laws currently under consideration include:

Senate Bill 56: Requires a minimum six-month prison sentence for anyone who injures another in a drunk driving accident. For accidents in which the victim suffers “substantial” bodily harm, the minimum sentence rises to two years, and for those in which the victim suffers “great” bodily harm, the penalty is three years. There are exceptions when the passenger is in the driver’s car. Enhanced penalties apply for convictions after the first. Reduced sentences for drug or alcohol counseling programs are eliminated.

Senate Bill 58: Changes the indictment against a first-time OWI offender with a blood alcohol concentration greater than 0.15 percent to a criminal charge. Punishments include fines of $350 up to $1,100 and imprisonment between five days and six months. Second offenses could be fined $500 to $1,500 and made to serve ten days up to six months in prison.

Senate Bill 59: Establishes a mandatory 10-year incarceration period for drivers who cause OWI-related deaths.

Senate Bill 61: Authorizes seizure of a vehicle for third or subsequent OWI offenses.
Attorney John Demas notes: “While nearly everyone is in favor of harsher punishments for drunk driving, the feasibility of any proposed legislation must be considered. If states are prepared to fund these new laws with more prison space and more attorneys to prosecute the cases, these measures might have a deterrent effect on drunk driving. However, if the laws are not enforced due to lack of funds, they become worse than useless. Victims may also lose the chance to recover damages from drunk drivers who injure them or kill family members if harsher prison sentences are imposed due to the fact that the drivers may lose all assets that could be used to pay damages.”

About Demas Law Group: Demas Law Group is a personal injury firm in Sacramento, California, that represents victims of vehicle accidents,drunk drivers accidents, dog bites, nursing home abuse, and product liability cases. Sacramento attorneys help victims recover damages for their injuries from those who have been negligent or careless.

Source: LaCrosse Tribune, “Bills aimed at reducing drunken driving met with skepticism,” Dee J. Hall, March 6, 2013.

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