New Year's Eve continuing through the early morning hours of January 1st are peak times for arrests of drivers under the influence (DUI). It brings to a close the holiday season which stretches from Thanksgiving through to the new year, where the incidents of drivers taking to the road after a little too much celebration and inebriation. However, as the new year dawn, a new batch of politicians make their into office.
One state senator from Kentucky was so excited by the beginning of the new legislative session, that he apparently couldn't wait to celebrate. Republican Senator Brandon Smith was pulled over by police on the first day his state's General Assembly convening. Nine hours after the legislative session began, Kentucky State Police Sergeant Michael Webb stopped Senator Smith for speeding, and suspecting alcohol use, had him take a chemical breath test.
According to a field breathalyzer, Smith's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was over the legal limit, at 0.088 percent. However, Smith refused a follow-up breath test. Smith declined to comment on his police interaction, which also resulted in a speeding citation. According to his attorney, William E. Johnson, Smith is hopeful the matter will be satisfactorily resolved. Smith likely understands the laws and regulations surrounding his state's DUI laws. Smith is the vice chair of the Transportation Committee, charged with oversight of state traffic regulation legislation.
Along with new politicians in office come new proposed changes to the laws. One Oklahoma State senator, Patrick Anderson, is proposing a law that would restrict those convicted for a DUI from buying or consuming alcohol. The proposed bill would allow courts to limit access to alcohol for a set amount of time to be determined by the judge. It would also make it a crime to sell or furnish alcohol to a person who has been ordered to abstain from alcohol, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.
Senator Anderson says he came up with the ideal after hearing of a similar law in Alaska. Courts often have such restrictions for individuals under the age of 21, but underage persons are not legally allowed to have access to alcohol in most cases anyway. Legal experts and defense attorneys see all sorts of potential problems when such limitations are extended to adults legally allowed to drink. Some see proplems with enforcement, and others cite exemptions for religious rites or when alcohol is used as an ingredient in food. The issue will come before the Oklahoma State Senate next month.
With the start of a new legislative session here in Washington, one of the issues to be addressed is the number of people arrested for driving under the influence. While the state as seen a broader trend of a decrease in alcohol related DUIs, marijuana DUI is on the increase ever since the legalization for recreational use. One state representative, and a former Benton County sheriff's deputy, Brad Klippert will be introducing a bill to ban marijuana, citing DUIs and homelessness.