The Erin Swezey Act is on its way to Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk. Thursday both the House and Senate gave overwhelming support to Senate Bill 529, a measure named for a 20-year-old Oklahoma State University student from Edmond who was killed by a drunk driver in 2009.
Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, is principal author of SB 529. He authored the bill at the request of Erin’s parents, Keith and Dixie Swezey, who sought the greater use of mandatory interlock devices as a way to keep more drunk drivers off the road and reduce fatalities.
“I’m extremely proud of the Senate and the House for making this important commitment to public safety with the passage of the Erin Swezey Act,” said Jolley, R-Edmond. “Right now, Oklahoma is among the top six states in the nation in drunk driving fatalities. This gives us the tools we need to save lives.”
In the final version of the bill approved by lawmakers, an interlock device would be required on a first conviction for those with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15 or higher for 18 months. For a second or subsequent offense, the mandate would apply to those with a BAC of .08. The interlock device would be mandatory for four years on a second offense, and for five years for subsequent offenses. In addition, the individual’s driver license would have the designation “Interlock Required” as long as the device’s use is mandated.
“We know this will help us save lives from what we’ve seen in other states. Right now there are 13 that require interlock devices for those convicted of DUI, and it has resulted in at least a 30 percent drop in fatalities in those states. In Arizona, they’ve reduced drunk driving deaths by 46 percent.”
SB 529, authored by Rep. Jason Nelson in the House of Representatives, now goes to Gov. Fallin for her signature. Jolley expressed his thanks to Nelson for his work and to fellow lawmakers for supporting the bill and said he is hopeful Gov. Fallin will sign the measure into law. If approved, the Erin Swezey Act will be effective as of November 1, 2011.