New laws could bring harsher punishments for drunk driving

By: Chelsea Priest,

A head-on collision Friday night in Warwick caused by a suspected drunk driver sent four people to the hospital including an 11-year old girl who is in critical condition. That is just one of multiple drunk driving cases from this weekend, two involving children. The other was a father who was suspected to be driving impaired with his seven year old son in the car.

Gabrielle Abbate who is the executive director at MADD says it's becoming more common to see adults driving under the influence with children in the car. “When you start taking kids and its like one after another after another…that speaks to me as there is no fear, there's an arrogance about it.”

Which is why state law makers are proposing multiple bills to toughen the penalties for drunk driving. One of those bills being proposed would chance driving under the influence with a child in the car from a misdemeanor to a felony. Representative Robert Craven explains, “It is not unusual in the law, a crime that otherwise would be considered a misdemeanor would be elevated to the level of a felony which means be punished by more than a year in jail and more than a 1000 dollar fine.”

He has proposed the bill hoping that the punishment will fit the crime. “At least in reference to the punishment, people are going to get it, hopefully as a deterrent of an impact on others.”

Multiple bills pertaining to drunk driving will be heard at the House Judiciary Committee meeting Tuesday night.

Abbate continues, “There's not one that's the silver bullet, not one, but if you took them all together, it would tell people that there are leaders up there who really take it seriously.”