DUI laws change drunk driving felonies - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

DUI laws change drunk driving felonies

A loophole in the law is making it easier for drunk drivers to avoid a felony conviction.

And making it tougher for valley DA'S to prosecute drunk driving cases.

New state guidelines are changing the way Alabama handles drunk driving cases.

In the past, prosecutors could charge any fourth DUI as a felony.

Under new law, four DUI's have to be within a five-year time frame to be considered a felony.

Madison County Assistant District Attorney Shauna Barnett.

"The court of criminal appeals about 2 weeks ago came down with the decision saying that the way the new statue addition is worded made it where we can't use any priors in state or out of state that happened more than four years ago. That's has severely tied our hands to prosecute felony dui's which are by nature repeat offenders," says Barnett.

The loophole in the law changed several possible felony DUI cases in Barnett's office.

"We've had to amend several of our pending cases down to misdemeanors these are people with 5, 6, 8 prior DUI's," says Barnett.

That news is frustrating to Glenda Richardson who became involved in "Mothers Against Drunk Driving" 10 years after her husband and 2 young boys were killed by a drunk driver.

"Its a slap in the face to the victim's of drunk driving."

These pictures represent a small fraction of those killed by someone who drank too much.

A grim reminder of the risks of mixing alcohol with the road.

Even more disturbing, now, a change in drunk driving laws.

One prosecutors say needs to be toughened.

"Repeat offenders are the truly dangerous people we need to keep off the street for a long time because they have proven they can't be trusted," says Barnett.

Alabama Attorney General Troy King will ask the legislature to change the law in 2008.

If you want more information on ways you can lobby to have the law changed, contact Mothers Against Drunk Driving at 1-800-635-0722.

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