New Oklahoma Law Makes Penalties Harsher On Drunk Driving

Tuesday, November 1st 2011, 6:40 pm
By: News 9

Jennifer Pierce, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Along with the new Oklahoma laws that went into effect Tuesday is a law that puts much stiffer penalties on drunk driving. It's a bitter sweet day for the family that pushed for the Erin Swezey Act.

The Erin Swezey Act requires an ignition interlock device be put on the car of someone convicted of drunk driving, even if it's their first offense. Swezey's family and law enforcement said the law will keep our streets safer.

It's been more than two years since Keith Swezey's daughter was killed by a drunk driver on the Kilpatrick Turnpike.

"There is a huge hole in our family. My two sons lost their sister. We lost our daughter. She has a niece and nephew she will never know," Swezey said.

But her name and memory live on in an Oklahoma law.

"It was a long fight to get this law passed," Swezey said.

Swezey said before the Erin Swezey Act, interlock devices on the first offense were optional.

"It's no longer optional," Swezey said.

 Besides a required interlock on their car, Swezey said the person responsible will also have to carry a drivers license that has stamped on the front -- "interlock required."

Swezey said a similar law is in 13 other states and appears to have cut down on drunk driving accidents and deaths.

"Someone from the highway patrol told me the other day this is the first time a law has been passed that is really going to make a difference in drunk driving accidents and deaths," Swezey said.

Swezey may no longer have his daughter. But he is sure that her death will save lives.

"If her death can mean something and her memory can support a law that will keep drunks off the road, we feel like it's very important," Swezey said.

the man who hit Swezey's daughter also died in the accident. He had a number of drunk driving convictions and arrests.