Driving under the influence

One very important issue that the judiciary committee has been working on is to look comprehensively at our driving under the influence status and what reforms would make it safer for the public. The bill, S168, creates stiffer penalties for people who knowingly and voluntarily allow their cars to be borrowed by someone who is either under the influence of alcohol or drugs or whose license has been suspended. In addition, it expands DUI to include any drugs that would render a person incapable of driving safely. This bill proposes to broaden the definition of drug for purposes of the prohibition on driving under the influence of a drug. The types of drugs in the bill are indentified as classes of drugs that effect the body, such as central nervous system, depressants, and stimulants, to name a few. There is a request for a study of alcohol ignition interlocks, a simple and effective way to keep those with multiple DUI convictions off the road if they have had too much to drink. This device is installed on the offenders vehicle and is connected to the starter system. To start the car, the driver must blow into a breath test device. If the ignition interlock detects alcohol in the breath, the car will not start. The devices are highly accurate and tamper-resistant. Fortyfive states have some form of ignition interlock law, but fewer than half make them mandatory. This is just stronger support for the need to treat offenders with substance abuse addictions. A revolving door policy with repeat offenders does not solve any problems for the offender or society. This ties in with the work my committee of institutions and corrections has been dealing with this session. I was one of 99 representatives who voted to override the governors veto on campaign finance. That is one vote short of the two thirds majority needed for an override. One belief from those who voted to uphold the veto was that this bill would favor an incumbent and not give a new candidate an even playing field. I do not believe this to be true. I have run campaigns and never felt to be at a financial or fund raising disadvantage. For me, the more important position is that big money has no place in Vermont politics. We do things differently here and do not need the influence of large campaign donations. I am very proud of the $25-50 donations I receive. I appreciate hearing from many of you who asked me to vote in favor of overriding the veto. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. You can call me at 985-8515 or at the State House at 1-800-322-5616. My e-mail is: jglenes@aol.com. Joan Lenes is the Representative for Chittenden County, District 5-2 in Vermont. Her column appears regularly in the Times Sentinel.

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