Oklahoma Governor Signs Bill to Better Track DUI Offenders

oklahoma-can-track-dui-offendersIt looks as if drunk drivers will not be slipping through the cracks anymore in Oklahoma. Governor Fallin has just signed  House Bill 3146, which brings all of the state’s DUI prosecutions into courts of record – courts, in other words, in which proceedings are recorded and preserved so that they may track DUI arrests and access records in the future.

It may surprise a lot of people to learn that many drunk driving cases are handled in smaller municipal and rural courts whose proceedings are not easily accessible. This means that if a person is arrested for DUI, police and courts will have no idea if it is a first, second or subsequent offense. That’s an important distinction: multiple offenders get stricter punishments, including ignition interlocks, car breathalyzer devices which prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

The new law specifies that all drunk driving cases will be handled in courts of record. If an Oklahoma resident is arrested for DUI, courts will know immediately if the defendant has previous arrests or convictions. As a result, he or she will be given treatment that is more appropriate to the level of infraction.

There’s a reason the bill had bipartisan support: Oklahoma has a drunk driving problem. The state has the country’s sixth-highest rate of alcohol-related road deaths. This rate – 5.4 drunk driving deaths per 100,000 people – has not declined as much as that of other states since 2012.

Oklahoma’s legislators are obviously aware that tackling the impaired driving problem is complex, with many types of action needed: enforcement, monitoring, treatment, and public education. The ability to track DUI offenders is one part of the puzzle that has just been put into place by the governor.