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Georgia lawmaker wants to give drunk drivers a second chance

According to the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, Georgia police officers and troopers make about 40,000 DUI arrests each year. Although not every arrest is lawful or results in a conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, one could make a safe assumption that there are still thousands of individuals who face serious consequences that could have a lasting impact on their lives after a DUI conviction.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is certainly dangerous, but are the legal and social consequences for the offense always just or fair? According to one Georgia lawmaker, the punishment for DUI convictions should remain severe, but some individuals should also be given a second chance.

The lawmaker is proposing a new bill that would allow DUI offenders to have their convictions erased from their criminal records if they keep a clean record for five consecutive years. The idea behind the proposed law is not to lessen the penalties for committing the criminal offense, but instead to give those who truly made a poor decision a second chance to improve their lives. DUI convictions can prevent individuals from getting accepted into law school or from being hired for a job.

Although the executive director for the Governor's Office of Highway Safety believes that this law would interfere with federal requirements regarding commercial truck drivers who are convicted of drunk driving, the Georgia lawmaker said that he would be willing to make changes to the bill in order to incorporate federal requirements.

The executive director of the Georgia Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving said that she currently opposes the bill because it does not clarify whether or not first-time offenders, repeat offenders or those convicted of vehicular homicide while driving under the influence will all have the same opportunity to have their convictions cleared if they keep their records clean for the recommended five-year period.

The proposed bill will be reviewed by a committee in the coming weeks.

Source: WXIA-TV, "Erase DUI convictions after five years, says state legislator," John Shirek, Jan. 27, 2012