Sen. Raptakis to reintroduce drunken driving legislation in wake of recent DUIs
STATE HOUSE – A spate of high-profile cases of driving under the influence has prompted Sen. Leonidas P. Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) to reintroduce several bills to stiffen penalties for repeat offenders when the legislature comes back into session.
“Drunk drivers, especially repeat offenders and especially those whose irresponsible actions cause harm to others, should not be on the road, period,” said Senator Raptakis. “I don’t care how remorseful they seem when they appear before a judge. The punishment for this type of reckless disregard for the welfare of others needs to be much tougher. Until it is, drunks are going keep getting behind the wheel and the mayhem on our roads will continue.”
Several DUI cases have been in the news lately, including a Coventry man who drove head-on into a police cruiser on Oct. 8, a Providence woman who hit two State Police cruisers on Nov. 8, and a North Kingstown woman who was sentenced to seven years on Oct. 25 for a fatal DUI crash in East Greenwich. Statistics released by the State Police indicate that incidences of drunken driving have increased this year. From January to April 2020, 19 drivers were charged with DUI by the State Police. This year for that same time period, that number rose to 29.
The first bill sponsored by Senator Raptakis would increase the penalties for those convicted of driving under the influence resulting in death and driving under the influence resulting in serious bodily injury.
The second piece of legislation would increase from 5 years to 10 years the period in which prior DUI convictions qualify a person for increased penalties for subsequent convictions.
The last bill would require the license plates of a vehicle to be confiscated if the owner is arrested for driving while the license was suspended, revoked or canceled for a number of offenses, including driving under the influence and refusing to submit to a breath test.
“From my point of view, we have done enough study. We’ve heard these bills year after year while people have continued to get hurt and killed on our roads, and the courts have allowed drunks to get back behind the wheel,” said Senator Raptakis. “We know people drive drunk, we know they continue to drive drunk after being convicted and their license has been suspended or revoked, we know they cause damage and death. We need to act and we need to get tough.”