Legislation mandating vehicle seizures of repeat drunk drivers was approved by the State Senate Wednesday. The bill also contains a provision which would allow authorities to better track DUI offenders who rack up multiple offenses in courts that don't leave a paper trail.
SB 423 is the product of the mother-son team of Representative Mary Easley and Senator Kevin Easley. The legislation is now awaiting House action.
"We've managed to take tough drunken driving legislation and make it even tougher. Not only will we be taking the car keys of repeat drunk drivers, we'll be making sure they can't run away from their DUI history. This legislation will make it a lot easier to take drunk drivers off the street," said Rep. Mary Easley.
SB 423 will allow authorities to seize the vehicles of two-time drunk drivers who commit both offenses within a 10 year time period. Another provision will mandate that second-time DUI offenders be charged in district court rather than courts not of record, making it easier to track multiple offenses.
"We're trying to put a double-whammy on drunk drivers. We'll do a better job of tracking their record and if we find out they're a two-time DUI offender, we'll take their car," said Senator Easley.
Under current law, it is difficult to track the offenses of DUI offenders who are charged in courts not of record. Published reports indicate many drunk drivers have been able to chalk up more than a half-dozen offenses without being held accountable for their previous misdeeds. SB 423 will put a stop to that.
"The days of someone racking up four, five, even 10 DUIs and continuing to drive are over. This will send a pretty simple message to repeat drunk drivers: if you do drink and drive in Oklahoma, you won't do it for long. You can run, but you can't hide," said Rep. Mary Easley.
SB 423 has been dubbed "Greg's Law" in memory of Tulsa teenager Greg Gifford. Gifford was killed by a repeat DUI offender in Tulsa two years ago.
"We took up this cause on behalf of Greg and his family, but it's really about all of the Oklahomans who have been touched by a drunk driving tragedy. There are thousands of innocent people who might still be alive today had we taken the drunk driver's weapon away from him when we had the chance," said Rep. Mary Easley.
"This legislation will save lives. There's no question about it."