The Senate has given final approval to a measure aimed at reducing drunk driving in Oklahoma. Sen. Don Barrington, R-Lawton, is the principal author of Senate Bill 1185. The measure allows those convicted of drunk driving on a second or subsequent offence to retain their license if they agree to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. This device prevents the vehicle’s engine from starting if the driver is intoxicated.
Current law only allows an offender to volunteer to install the device on a first offense. A second or subsequent offense usually means suspension or revocation of the person’s driver license. However Barrington said that often does not stop offenders from driving, or from continuing to drive while intoxicated.
“The problem is, simply suspending the offender’s license doesn’t stop them. The data shows us that 70 percent of people who’ve lost their license because of DUI continue to drive anyway,” Barrington said. “But if they agree to a modified license and to install this device, it will stop them from driving drunk, and it means they can continue to support their families and contribute to society.”
The legislation was approved on Wednesday on a bipartisan vote of 40 to 3. Among the bill’s supporters is the Green Country Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Shawn Jenkins is the organization’s executive director.
“We’ve already seen this concept work in other states. New Mexico is a great example. They reduced their recidivism by 60 percent. Their alcohol involved crashes are down by 30 percent and fatalities are down by 22 percent,” said Jenkins.
SB 1185 now moves back to the House for final approval before being sent to the governor.