Two bills that would toughen Mississippi's DUI laws are awaiting the governor's signature. As MPB's Desare Frazier reports the senator who penned the measures says they're overdue.
Senator David Parker of Olive Branch, knows how devastating a DUI accident can be. Earlier this year, his daughter's college roommate was hit by a drunk driver.
"She has been left paralyzed as a result and so we have been dealing with her tragedy and getting her the help she needs," said Parker.
Parker had already introduced bills to toughen DUI laws. He found defendants were often allowed to plead to a first offense to keep from bogging down the courts. A second offense charge entitles them to a jury trial, where they could face up to one year in prison. Parker's bills lower the second offense to six months in jail.
"So that more of those second offenses will be adjudicated as second, instead of plea bargained down to a first, which has been kind of a loop hole," said Parker.
The bills provide that court clerks who don't report DUI convictions within five days be fined $100. Madison City Prosecutor Trae Sims says the information is important to prove whether a person has multiple DUI's.
"If you don't have those abstracts that only the court clerk can give you, then you can't prove the subsequent DUI, which carries an enhanced penalty," said Sims.
Senator David Parker's bills will also begin looking into electronically submitting records to the Department of Public Safety. He says he's confident Governor Phil Bryant will sign the legislation.