U.S. Congressman Ted Poe joined fellow lawmakers and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) president Wendy Hamilton in a press conference this morning to support the Lautenberg-DeWine Drunk Driving Amendment to H.R. 3, the Highway Bill. The amendment has passed the Senate and the bill is now in conference.

The amendment affects those considered higher-risk impaired drivers.

Higher-Risk impaired drivers are:

ï Repeat Offenders convicted of a second driving-under-the-influence (DUI) offense within a 7-year period;
ï High-BAC offenders convicted of a DUI offense with a BAC of .15% of higher; and/or
ï Driving while suspended (DWS) where the suspension was the result of a DUI conviction;

The amendment includes the following penalties to be imposed upon high risk impaired drivers:

ï One year license suspensionminimum 45-day suspension of all driving privileges plus optional alcohol interlock installed for remainder of one-year period.
ï Vehicle Impoundment vehicle driven at time of arrest must be impounded or immobilized for 45 days minimum, followed by installation of an ignition interlock device for up to remainder of a year if driver obtains provisional hardship license.
ï Mandatory Incarceration10 days imprisonment or 100 days electronic monitoring.
ï Mandatory Alcohol Abuse Assessment and TreatmentIf diagnosed with a substance abuse problem by a certified State substance abuse official, must attend treatment program for first 12 consecutive months of probation period, meeting with case manager at least once a month.

The amendment does not assess any new penalty for states that do not comply with this program. It merely preserves the current transfer of funds from highway construction programs to impaired driver programs for states that do not meet the federal standard. The amendment is based on recommendations from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), National Transportation Safety Board and The Century Council.

I commend my colleagues in the Senate for passing this important amendment. Poe said. I believe in holding criminals accountable for their actions. It is critical that leniency for drunk drivers does not result in repeat offenses.

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH), Senator John Warner (R-VA), Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Congressman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) also spoke at the press conference.

Spearheading the effort to protect victims, Congressman Poe co-chairs the Congressional Victims Right Caucus that he founded in March. He has over 22 years experience dealing with criminal cases as a felony court judge and a prosecutor. He is a leading authority on crime, justice, and childrens issues.