The following is an editorial from WBRC FOX6 News General Manager Collin Gaston, which first aired on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017.
It’s time to revisit Alabama’s look back period and how it impacts those arrested and charged with DUIs in our state.
In Alabama, those convicted of driving under the influence are charged with misdemeanors on their first, second and third DUI’s with escalating penalties to include fines, license suspension and jail time. A fourth DUI conviction, yes, there are people who don’t learn their lessons after three DUIs, will result in a Class C felony including fines up to $10,000, license suspension for five years and time in prison up to 10 years.
I fully support the way our current law increases DUI penalties when individuals time and time again get behind the wheel under the influence putting their life our lives in jeopardy. The rub with our current law, the look back period and why Alabama State Senator Arthur Orr wants it changed, is that it only looks back five years.
Habitual DUI offenders are benefiting under the current law as past offenses only impact DUI judgments/penalties against them for a period of five years. Meaning some offenders could have six or seven DUIs, but due to the timing of those arrests, could only be looking at misdemeanor offenses and the smaller penalties associated with.
Sen. Orr would like that changed to at least 10 years and I support that. The goal here is to be tougher on those that have decided not be responsible.
Increasing the look back period to 10 years will expand the accountability and penalties levied against repeat DUI offenders. This will either serve as a wake-up call to certain people to get the help they need or it will put more people behind bars and off the road.
Either option means less drunk drivers on Alabama roads, which is something we can all agree on a very good thing.
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