New bill aims to change state DUI laws

Senator Arthur Orr is ready to crack down on drunk drivers.
Senator Arthur Orr is ready to crack down on drunk drivers.

DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - Under Alabama law, a drunk driving conviction in another state has no impact here. A bill introduced by Senator Arthur Orr is aiming to change that.

Orr said there are different aspects of the bill that are ultimately aimed at keeping people safe on the roads and getting those who are driving under the influence sentenced accordingly.

"Every year you see more and more people, innocent people, who are killed on the roadways of Alabama because of drunk drivers," Orr said.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), there were 259 drunk driving deaths in the state of Alabama in 2011. In an effort to possibly save lives, Orr has a bill that's ready to head to legislation to crack down on the penalties for people who drive while drunk or on drugs.

"Our intent is to get drunk drivers off the road and treat them accordingly and harshly because they are jeopardizing the safety of the rest of us," he said.

Another aspect of his bill will do away with the state's five year look back period.  Orr wants to make it unlimited. So if a person got a DUI more than five years ago, the judge would know about it and could consider it during sentencing. With this bill, Orr also wants to make it so that prior convictions in other states pack a punch for prosecutors.

"Why can't we consider, just for sentencing purposes, other states' DUI convictions, assuming the standards are similar to Alabama's?" he said.

Orr's bill also sets a measurable standard for drugs and would allow blood samples to be taken if a driver appears to be impaired.  The new bill will be presented in the new year. Orr hopes it passes and brings the deadly statistics down.

The next legislative session is Jan. 14.  Orr said his bill is ready to be filed and local prosecutors support it.

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