New York’s Proposed Felony DWI Law
Tuesday, 18 August 2009 22:45

Governor Paterson (D) of New York state has submitted a bill that would toughen laws for drinking and driving with a child 16 or under as a passenger. The new proposed law is called the Child Passenger Protection Act. It will be considered in the fall when the New York Senate and House reconvene.

As proposed, the law would make it a Class B felony if a minor where killed in an accident while riding with an intoxicated driver. The punishment would be 5 to 25 years in prison. If the minor were injured instead of killed, then it would be a Class C felony with three and a half to 15 years in prison. If convicted of driving intoxicated with a minor where no injuries or death were caused, it would be a Class E felony with up to 4 years in prison. The proposed law also specifies that anyone charged with having a BAC higher than .08 while driving a passenger who is 16 or under, would lose their license pending prosecution. Conviction in this scenario would result in loss of license for a year. The loss of license penalty is increased to a year and a half if the driver had a prior DWI in the past 10 years.

In addition to these penalties, anyone convicted would also be categorized as a “serious offender” and would be required to have a ignition interlock for one year. This makes the car inoperable unless the driver demonstrates his sobriety by blowing into the device prior to starting the car. This proposed law would make this mandatory instead of at the court’s discretion.

You can read the Governor’s press release here.

New Louisiana Laws Stiffen Penalties
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 22:44

Starting August 15, 2009. three new laws will make the penalties tougher on Louisiana residents. One is designed to toughen the laws on refusing to provide a breath sample, another will mandate jail time for driving with a suspended license and the third will limit the ability of defense counsel to obtain sworn testimony during a pre-hearing deposition. Up to this point, the state has been the only one in the nation to allow such a defense strategy.

Under the new refusal law, the state will double the penalty for a  first offense from 180 days to a year and for a second offense from 18 months to two years. The new driving while suspended law creates two categories of offense. The first of these is for DWIs and requires a minimum 15 day jail sentence with a maximum of six months. The second class is for anyone suspended for any accidents resulting in death. These will require a 60 day jail sentence with a maximum of six months.

The third law just limits how much discovery a defense attorney can demand prior to a hearing. It is designed to make the process quicker for the legal system. This is the change that I think is most heinous. It is just another way of taking away your right to an adequate defense and a move to convict people without proper constitutional protection.

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Texas DWI Law Circumvents Constitution
Friday, 31 July 2009 22:39

On September 1, a new law will take effect in Texas that allows the police to order that blood be drawn from DWI suspects without a court warrant. Officers will only have this right if the suspect is a repeat offender, a minor under 15 is present in the car or someone gets hurt.

This law gives too much power to police with no judicial oversight. It will also put a huge burden on testing labs in the states. It is possible that they may be overwhelmed by requests since there will be no checks and balances to the police officer’s authority on the matter.

This is another example of laws being enacted across the country that are designed to reduce drinking and driving, but try to accomplish this in an almost  totalitarian way. This law skirts the foundations of the legal system in this country. It is time to stop the abuse of power that Mothers Against Drunk Driving is pushing. Write your local officials and tell them where you stand.

Delaware Gets Tough on DUIs
Tuesday, 14 July 2009 22:31

Governor Jack A. Markell (D) of Delaware just signed two new laws that increase penalties for driving under the influence. The two bills were House Bill 152 and Senate Bill 177. House Bill 152 increases fines for all DUI offenses and makes the penalties particularly tough on fourth and subsequent offenders. With it, six months of jail time is required and the charge would be a felony. The full text of House Bill 152 can be read here.

Senate Bill 177 applies to first time offenders with a BAC reading of .15 or higher. The new penalties increase the period of license revocation to six months from three. It also increases the imposition of ignition interlock devices and limits drivers with ignition interlock devices to driving for work, school, alcohol treatment or service appointments for the device. The complete text of the bill can be read here

Since the penalties imposed by House Bill 152 are onerous, it will surely increase the need for and cost of good defense attorneys.

Totalitarian Missouri DWI Law
Monday, 06 July 2009 22:29

Missouri Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) signed a new law that went into effect on July 1st that requires repeat DWI offenders to install breathalyzer devices on their vehicles. To start the car, you have to blow into the device and register less than a .02 BAC or the car will not start. It also requires that you blow into the ignition interlock device periodically as you drive.

This practice should be ruled unconstitutional since it only applies to certain drivers and enforces a BAC level that is 75% lower than the legal limit. In effect, it creates a set of laws for one class of people that is different and more onerous than for another class of people. In my opinion it violates the equal protection clause of the constitution.

Their is a cost involved with installing the device, removing the device, servicing it and a monthly service fee that runs $75 to $125 a month. These fees, not surprisingly, are paid by the driver and not the state. Register your displeasure with the law by calling your representatives in Missouri and asking them to show you how this law will save lives or reform repeat offenders without providing them with any rehabilitation.

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