For Immediate Release: February 23, 2011
Keith and Dixie Swezey, Sen. Clark Jolley and Rep. Jason Nelson
discuss the Elizabeth Swezey Act
at the state Capitol on Wednesday.
Parents hope ‘Erin Elizabeth Swezey
Act’ will save lives
An Edmond couple is hoping stronger DUI laws can help
prevent other families from enduring their heartbreak. Keith and
Dixie Swezey shared their story at a State Capitol press conference
On April 4, 2009, the Swezey’s 20-year-old daughter, Erin,
was hit and killed by a drunk driver whose blood alcohol content
(BAC) was more than three times the legal limit. The driver, a 32-year-old
metro man, had just rear-ended another car. In an attempt to flee
that accident, he turned his vehicle around and began driving over
100 miles per hour on the wrong side of the Kilpatrick Turnpike,
hitting Erin’s car head-on. He also died in the collision.
“The fact that his BAC was .29 was shocking enough, but a
quick search on the Internet revealed he had a history of drunk
and reckless driving arrests starting when he was just a teen,”
said Swezey, Professor of Mass Communications at the University
of Central Oklahoma. “Even though his license was suspended
for six years and he couldn’t get insurance, he continued
to drive drunk. Somewhere along the way, he should have been stopped.”
The Swezey’s contacted State Sen. Clark Jolley and Rep. Jason
Nelson to push for tougher DUI laws in Oklahoma.
“This is not an easy process for us, but we’re willing
to share our story for Erin in the hopes of passing legislation
that may prevent another family from going through such a senseless
tragedy,” said Dixie Swezey.
Jolley is the principal author for Senate Bill 529, the “Erin
Elizabeth Swezey Act.” Under the bill, anyone convicted of
DUI would be required to have an ignition interlock device for a
period of two years on a first offense. On a second offense, the
device would be required for five years. Subsequent offenses would
mean 8 years of driving with an interlock device. In addition, the
words “DUI conviction” would be on their driver license
for as long as the person was required to have an interlock device.
“As a parent, I cannot even begin to imagine what the Swezey’s
have endured—but I do know that we have an opportunity to
honor Erin’s memory by strengthening our DUI laws,”
said Jolley, R-Edmond. “The goal of this legislation is simply
to save lives.”
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has announced its support of
the measure, calling it their number one priority in the Oklahoma
“Oklahoma has the opportunity to take a giant step forward
in its fight against drunk driving with thepassage of the Erin Swezey
Act,” said Laura Dean-Mooney, MADD’s National President.
“MADD commends Senator Jolley for authoring this life-saving
legislation to help eliminate drunk driving — a 100 percent
The bill is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Public Safety Committee
on Thursday, February 24 at 9:30 a.m. in rooms 419 A and B of the
Capitol. If the measure wins approval, it will next be heard by
the full Senate. Rep. Nelson will serve as principal author of the
bill in the House.
“Our hearts go out to the Swezey’s. This could have
happened to any of our families,” said Nelson, R-Oklahoma
City. “Our task is to do everything in our power to make sure
this doesn’t happen again.”
The Swezey’s have launched a Facebook page, “Erin Swezey
Act,” to educate the public about the bill and its progress
in the legislature. Launched less than a week ago, the page already
has more than a thousand followers. Updates on the legislation are
also being posted on Twitter.
MADD testimony in support of the Erin
For more information contact:
Sen. Jolley: (405) 521-5622