Delaware bill aimed at keeping drunk drivers off road

Delaware wants to make sure those who continue to drink and drive are taken off the streets.  A bill filed Tuesday in Dover targets hardcore drunk drivers.

The measure calls for enhanced prison sentences, 24-hour monitoring, and intensive counseling for individuals convicted of multiple DUI offenses.  The new sentencing requirements kick in with the third conviction.

“When you make the decision to drive drunk, you are making the tragic decision to put lives at risk,” said Gov. Jack Markell. “To those careless or callous enough to become a multiple offender, know that this law will put you in jail.”  

For repeat DUI offenders, enhanced minimum prison sentences start with 6 months for the third offense, increasing to 5 years for the seventh and subsequent offenses.  These sentences can be cut in half if the offender complies with monitoring and treatment, but are still longer than sentences that repeat offenders currently face.

“A car with an impaired driver behind the wheel is a lethal weapon,” said Attorney General Beau Biden. “We cannot keep arresting the same drunk drivers over and over again; we need a more effective approach.”

Under this bill, as part of their probation, offenders will be prohibited from consuming any alcohol for the first 90 days after their release from prison. To ensure this occurs, offenders will wear an ankle bracelet that can detect alcohol in their bodily fluids. If an offender consumes alcohol during this period, the transdermal alcohol monitoring device will alert the probation officer and a violation may result in the offender returning to prison.

HB 168 will be considered Wednesday afternoon in the House Public Safety Committee. A companion bill, HB 174 on vehicular assault and homicide, will be considered earlier Wednesday by the House Judiciary Committee.

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