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State should not erase DUI violations with proposed bill

POSTED: February 1, 2012 1:00 a.m.

Rep. Rusty Kidd's DUI legislation ("Bill could offer 2nd chance after DUI charge," Sunday's Times) is the wrong bill at the wrong time.

As a Georgia state representative in 2008, I authored HB 336, Georgia's felony DUI law, which has been in effect since July of 2008. Not enough time has passed to determine its effectiveness, and Kidd's bill (HB 799) would be counterproductive.

Prior to passage of the law, Georgia was one of only five states in the country that did not have a felony DUI law. Kidd's bill moves Georgia in exactly the wrong direction, vitiating much of the progress that was made in the fight against drunk drivers by passage of HB 336.

Judges, employers (especially those hiring drivers), insurers and the public (through public court records) have a right to know about prior convictions for DUI. Moreover, no other crimes drop off as is proposed by HB 799.

Crimes such as shoplifting, public indecency and battery become punishable as felonies after a certain number of repeat offenses. If you steal a lighter from a store 1997, a pack of gum in 2000 and toothbrush 2005, subsequent offenses are punishable as felonies for the rest of your life. DUI poses a much greater risk to the public health, safety and welfare than shoplifting and is deserving of having no expungement window.

It would be interesting to investigate whether district attorneys are using HB 336 to prosecute serial drunk drivers to keep Georgians safe.

Kevin Levitas


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