MADD speaks against bill to change procedures for DUI charge

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving is speaking out against a bill passed in session to change procedures for drivers’ license suspensions and revocations for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol controlled substances or drugs.

Senate Bill 130, which would take away the administrative license hearing in front of the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and put it directly in magistrate court, passed through both chambers but has yet to hit the governor’s desk.

Frank Harris, the MAAD Director of State Government Affairs appeared on Wednesday morning’s MetroNews ‘Talkline’ and said this would be the biggest rollback of the state’s DUI law ever.

Frank Harris

“This would take West Virginia back to 1980 on how they are dealing with drunk drivers,” he said. “Mainly because it would be the first state in the country to eliminate that second path, the administrative license hearing. Currently, 41 states have laws with this duel path.”

The other path is the criminal proceeding in magistrate court for a DUI charge. The current law in West Virginia requires a person to go through the revocation of license with the DMV along with court proceedings.

According to Harris, only 40 percent of people who go through the criminal court process get convicted of the original DUI charge. He said leaving cases to the court system leaves too much to chance.

“The administrative license hearing process that is currently in place, 94 percent of those people have some sort of administrative action taken against them,” Harris said.

Harris said MADD wants Justice to veto the bill because the organization fears of acquittals and suspects pleading down, meaning they won’t lose their license.

“MAAD is here to say that if Gov. Justice doesn’t veto this bill, there will be an increase in drunk driving,” he said.

Harris further stated that if the bill is signed and roads become more dangerous as he expects, the state may lose millions of federal highway dollars.

“Driving is a privilege, not a right,” he said. “It’s a right to be alive and well on safe roadways. Senate Bill 130 is going to drastically reduce the rights to West Virginians to safely travel on West Virginia roadways.”.

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