Lawmakers in Connecticut pushing for stronger DUI charges when kids are in car

According to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), Connecticut is in the list of those states which do not have tough rules for driving while intoxicated with children in the vehicle and Connecticut is without a specific OWI child endangerment charge. MADD is forcing lawmakers to make impaired driving with a kid in the vehicle a crime.

Lawmakers in Connecticut are concentrating on making the rules for impaired driving tougher that will increase penalties for drunk drivers with kids in their cars. The District of Columbia and 43 states have increased the penalties for impaired drivers with children in the car but the laws and rules are different in every state.

MADD volunteer Skip Church said, “You’re putting that child in danger and there needs to be a punishment that goes along with that crime”.

In 2010, 211 children under 15 died in impaired driving accidents according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 60 percent of them were passengers of impaired drivers. Church added, “I think we need to get something on the books that deals specifically with child endangerment as it relates to alcohol”.

Last August, Utah Highway Patrol arrested 30-year-old Robert Hills of Connecticut. He was driving at high-speed with his four underage kids and wife in the car. The police officers deployed tire spikes to stop his car. Hills was charged with an enhanced OWI, obstruction of justice and failure to respond. He spent 50 days in lockup.

Rep. Al Adinolfi is proposing enhanced drunk driving penalties in Connecticut and his proposal is based on New Yorks’ Leandra’s Law. According to Leandra’s Law, it is a crime to drive while intoxicated with a kid under sixteen in the vehicle and first time offender faces up to 4 years in jail.

Leandra’s Law is named after Leandra Rosado, 11. She was killed in an accident because the driver was driving under the influence; in this accident, 6 other girls were also injured. Adinolfi said, “We have enough problems with protecting our children in this state and this is one of them that certainly deserve our attention”.

Attorney Teresa Dinardi is against the proposal of Adinolfi. According to Dinardi, Connecticut already has laws that accomplish the same goal of tougher penalties. Dinardi said, “Because right now they already get charged with risk of injury, which sounds like that’s what they want to do, just call it something else”. Risk of injury to a kid is a crime but sometimes first time offenders are not charged who are eligible for alcohol education programs.

On Halloween night, one of the kids of Amber Haaser called 9-1-1 for help when Haaser was driving under the influence of an intoxicant. Haaser was charged with 2 counts of risk of injury to a child and OWI. She is summoned on Tuesday.

MADD wants stronger laws for OWI child endangerment crime with increased penalties and ignition interlock devices installed in the cars of first time offenders.

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