Oklahoma Drivers Face Harsher Penalties For Drunk Driving

Tuesday, November 22nd 2011, 6:29 pm
By: News 9

Oklahoma deputies arrested several drunk drivers over the weekend during sobriety checkpoints in the metro. Due to a new law, the offenders will be getting more than just a ticket.

11/1/2011 Related Story: New Oklahoma Law Makes Penalties Harsher On Drunk Driving

Kenneth Hollman knows several drunk drivers. In his line of work, Hollman said meeting the drivers is rarely a choice.

"Some of them are embarrassed, because it is their first time and they did something stupid," Hollman said.

As a technician at Oklahoma City Automotive Safety Systems, Hollman puts interlock devices on the cars of DUI offenders. On average, the business installs six to ten breathalyzers a month, but those numbers will likely go up now that more laws are on the books.

"If they have to have it in there for six months to a year, and they have to pay every month, then yes they will think about it," Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said.

Whetsel said deputies arrested 11 drunk drivers during a four-hour sobriety checkpoint over the weekend. He said the number of arrests is the same as the last checkpoint back in July.

11/19/2011 Related Story: Deputies To Conduct DUI Checkpoints In Oklahoma County

"I think it is going to come as a bit of a shock for the first time offenders we arrested over the weekend that even on the first offense, they are going to have to put an interlock system on their car ," Whetsel said.

Hollman said the law will definitely slow down people who drink and drive, if not stopping them all together.

"Anytime you drive a car, if they have been drinking it will not start," Hollman said.

The Erin Swezey Act also calls for any driver who refuses a sobriety test when pulled over to have the interlock installed on the car.