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Attorney general calls for enhanced DUI penalties in Rhode Island

We have spoken about the expansion of DUI laws and the enhanced punishments that many lawmakers are considering for drunk drivers on this blog before. But in those cases, the suggested actions and changes to the law were not happening here in Rhode Island. Now, the changing tide of DUI laws and consequences has made it to the Ocean State, with lawmakers calling for stronger penalties for the offense of driving under the influence.

The Attorney General of Rhode Island, Peter F. Kilmartin, made a bold public statement to increase the penalties for those who are charged with driving under the influence and cause death or serious injury relating to their DUI.

In general, the proposal by the Attorney General would double the maximum possible jail time that a person charged with these crimes could receive upon sentencing. While elaborating on his stance, the Attorney General made it clear that some offenders simply "don't learn" that their behavior is illegal until they cause serious bodily harm.

What he doesn't make clear, then, is why increased penalties for causing bodily harm during a DUI would help. If offenders "don't learn" from causing bodily harm, which is far from a definitive take on the issue, then the punishment they receive after causing bodily harm during a DUI has nothing to do with whether the offender learns or not. It is just added punishment for the sake of added punishment.

Bringing attention to DUIs is one thing -- but increased penalties aren't always the correct course of action for a serious public safety issue.

Source: Providence Journal, "R.I. attorney general wants harsher penalties for DUI offenses," G. Wayne Miller, March 9, 2015

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