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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105

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For Immediate Release: March 12, 2009

Sen. Mary Easley
Sen. Mary Easley

Senate Passes Measure to Protect Children from Drunk Drivers

The Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation Thursday to provide better protection to Oklahoma's children. Sen. Mary Easley authored Senate Bill 1138 amending the definition of children endangerment to include parents or guardians who knowingly let their children ride in vehicles operated by people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

"It's sad and unfortunate that we have parents out there who aren't responsible enough to realize how dangerous it is to let their children ride with people who are impaired by drugs or alcohol," said Easley. "Obviously, our current laws aren't tough enough because we keep seeing cases where children are getting killed or hurt because they're in these situations. It's my hope and prayer that increasing these penalties will stop or at least deter this type of irresponsible behavior."

Under the bill, any driver age 21 or over found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol with someone under the age of 18 in the vehicle will be charged with child endangerment by DUI. If convicted, the penalty could be up to double the amount of the fine imposed by the underlying DUI violation.

Any parent or guardian found under the influence of drugs or alcohol with their child in the car would be guilty of felony child endangerment, which is punishable with up to four years imprisonment, a fine of $5,000 or both.

SB 1138 was a request bill from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). According to the organization, 68 percent of the children who died in alcohol related crashes between 1997 and 2002 were riding with an adult who had a median Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .13. Of those adults involved, 68 percent survived although the children were killed.

The House is the next stop for SB 1138.

For more information contact:
Sen. Easley's Office: 405-521-5590

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