Alabama legislation would toughen DUI rules

| 12/1/2008

If a state lawmaker gets his way, the penalties for driving under the influence in Alabama will get tougher.

Sen. Rusty Glover, R-Semmes, has prefiled a bill for consideration during the 2009 regular session that would authorize harsher penalties against drivers who get behind the wheel after drinking too much.

A similar effort stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee during the 2008 session. But committee Chairman Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, is expected to relinquish his spot and become the Senate pro tem.

The change could make it easier to get the bill through the committee to a vote on the Senate floor, Glover recently told The Press-Register in Mobile, AL.

Glover said his bill – SB10 – would authorize a new law regarding aggravated driving under the influence. It would apply to motorists with a blood alcohol content reading of at least 0.15 percent. The legal limit in Alabama is 0.08 percent.

Drivers who reach the second level would be subject to double the minimum penalties. The change also would extend from five years the cutoff when considering an offender’s history of driving under the influence.

Advocates for stricter drunken driving rules cite statistics that show drivers who are convicted on driving while intoxicated usually have driven drunk between 80 and 100 times before being caught.

One more provision is intended to close a loophole in the state’s drunken driving laws. It would focus on a rule that allows for a longer minimum sentence for a third DUI offense than for a fourth offense.

Gov. Bob Riley previously has supported the effort, which is expected to be brought up for consideration during the session that begins Feb. 3, 2009.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Alabama, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor