With the Rhode Island State Police, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other community partners announcing a “365 Days of Safety” initiative earlier this week to ensure the state’s roadways are safe, especially during New Year’s, State Senator-Elect Lou Raptakis said he is planning to support that effort by introducing a series of bills targeting repeat drunk driving offenders.
Raptakis said he will introduce legislation to go after hard-core drunk drivers and strengthen the state’s drunk driving laws. The bills would:
- Make it a felony for anyone to operate a motor vehicle when their license has been suspended, revoked or cancelled for driving under the influence or refusing to submit to a chemical test.
- Require the license plates of a vehicle to be confiscated and impounded for up to 90 days if the owner was arrested for driving on a suspended license resulting from an operating under the influence charge or refusing a breathe test.
- Extend the so-called “look back” period for violations of driving under the influence from 5 years to 10 years, the amount of time recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board.
- Increase the penalties for those convicted of driving under the influence, resulting in death or serious bodily injury.
“The State Police and MADD are doing important work in promoting awareness and getting the word out about the dangers of impaired driving and I think the General Assembly needs to be respond by doing their part to bring our laws in line with what other states are doing to stop drunk driving,” said Raptakis. “It was only four years ago that the National Transportation Safety Board listed Rhode Island as one of the three worst states in terms of failing to curb drunk driving.”
Raptakis concluded, “These bills will give us a chance to make our roadways safer and put our state at the forefront of enacting strong legislation to save lives and prevent drunk driving.”