Jul 25, 2014 11:28 PM by Alex Labat

Bill Clears Up OWI Laws

Starting August 1st, those caught drinking and driving could face tougher penalties. The changes, two years in the works, were made in this year's legislative session. Act 385 is an effort to simplify the laws dealing with drunk driving, especially when it comes to multiple offenses, underage drinkers, and suspending licenses.

The bill was backed by district attorneys, sheriffs, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. We sat down for a one-on-one with the Lafayette judge who was instrumental in getting the changes passed.

Scenes like this are all to common here in the state known for letting the "good times roll", but good times can lead to jail time if you drink and drive. Lafayette City Court Judge Douglas Saloom was tasked with thinking of new ways of clearing up OWI laws.

"Our goal was to see if we can make it easier to follow. By not just the district attorneys, but the judges, the defense attorneys and anybody involved in that type of area," says Saloom.
Another change is to the OWI statue (RS 14:98) to help determine what to charge someone with, for what offense. It describes all of the offenses for what happens if you're driving under the influence in Lafayette Parish. Judge Saloom says they've tried to simplify that process by breaking it up, into 14:98.1, .2, .3, .4, and so on, describing what would happen for a first offense, second offense, third offense, etc.

"And so we tried to clarify all of that so no matter who is reading it, if they're versed enough to understand the law, then they'll understand the law correctly," says Saloom.
No matter what changes will go into effect, Saloom says there's one way to avoid an OWI that will never change.

"Look, if you're going to be the partier, don't be the driver," says Saloom.


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