A new proposal to restrict people from buying or consuming alcohol if they’ve been convicted of a DUI could make Oklahoma the toughest state in the country on drunk driving.
The bill, written by Oklahoma state Sen. Patrick Anderson (R), would allow courts to order a person to abstain from drinking alcohol for a period of time of the court’s choosing. The typical punishment for a first-time DUI conviction in most states is a fine and/or a suspension or revocation of one’s driver’s license. Under the proposed Oklahoma law, a convicted drunk driver would instead exchange his license for a new piece of identification marked “alcohol restricted.”
The bill would then make it a felony to sell or provide alcohol to people with an “alcohol restricted” license. Individuals who “knowingly sell, deliver or furnish alcoholic beverages to a person who has been ordered to abstain” could face a fine of up to $1,000 or one year in prison.
However, it’s not clear whether it would actually be possible to enforce such a law. The bill says it would be illegal to “knowingly” sell or give alcohol to someone who’s been ordered to abstain, but it would be difficult to prove or disprove that knowledge in many cases — for example, if someone gives a friend a glass of wine at a party. It’s also not clear what would happen if someone is served food with alcohol in it, or if they’re given a drink that contains alcohol unbeknownst to them — a glass of spiked punch, for example. The current form of the bill doesn’t address these questions.
Finally, it’s not clear whether Oklahoma legislators would be interested in imposing such strict measures at a time when the state is already grappling with budget shortfalls for police departments and has one of the nation’s highest incarceration rates.
Anderson’s bill comes on the heels of an aggressive measure Oklahoma passed last year that allows prosecutors to confiscate the car of a person charged with drunk driving once that person’s case is in court.
New Mexico considered a law in 2013 that would have made it temporarily illegal for a person to drink alcohol after being convicted of driving while intoxicated. The state does not appear to have moved forward on that proposal.
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