Sunday, December 8, 2013
Letter to the editor
Thank you for highlighting the serious problem of repeat drunken driving offenders in your recent editorial. As a retired Maine state trooper, I have seen firsthand the tragedies that happen when people drive drunk.
The new law on ignition interlock devices is a step in the right direction. The Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, on which I serve, heard compelling testimony about them. There is no doubt they will be a useful tool.
But more can and should be done. That is why I submitted a bill for the upcoming session to further address the problem.
Under current law, prosecutors may charge a drunken driver as a repeat offender only if the driver has a prior conviction within the past 10 years. I recall my frustration, along with that of the prosecutor, when I arrested a drunken driver whose prior conviction fell outside the 10-year window. The case was treated as a first offense when it was really the second.
Repeat offenses — at least those in the “lookback” window — result in stricter penalties. I always wondered why the slate was cleaned after 10 years, especially when some states never wipe the record clean when it comes to OUIs.
My bill would extend the period for repeat convictions to 15 years. The bill’s narrow focus would apply only to drunken driving-related offenses.
Increasing the time period to 15 years would help ensure that drunken drivers face the penalties they should as repeat offenders. We all have seen tragic news stories involving drivers with multiple OUIs.
If we want to get tough on drunken driving, we must hold offenders accountable for their actions, especially those who repeatedly commit this serious crime.
Rep. Tim Marks, D-Pittston
District 53: Pittston, Wiscasset,
Randolph and Alna