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Strengthen punishment for drivers with multiple DUIs

Relatives of DUI crash victims asked the Legislature earlierthis session to toughen the penalties against repeat drunkendrivers, but so far lawmakers have slow act, and at least one hassimply scoffed at the idea.

Current state law places the maximum penalty for a second DUIconviction within five years of the first at a $1,500 fine and ayear in prison. A third conviction brings a maximum $5,000 fine andfive years in prison.

Who could argue with tougher penalties against those whoendanger lives by a reckless act of selfishness?

Apparently Rep. Ed Blackmon, chairman of the House Judiciary ACommittee, could argue – and has.

“You can lock them up twice the time we lock them up now,” theCanton Democrat said earlier this month, and “they’re still goingto do the same thing.”

Perhaps Blackmon is right when it comes to incorrigible,habitual offenders, but stricter penalties would hit home withyouths and social drinkers who might have had one too many and makethem think twice before taking their place behind the wheel.

Tougher penalties for repeat offenders would, no doubt, makethem fear the repercussions of their actions.

Blackmon went on to say that habitual drunken drivers need to betreated, not put behind bars. Yes, Rep. Blackmon, treatment is agood thing, but let’s treat them while they’re locked up and offthe streets.

Aggressively prosecuting and punishing drunken drivers should bea top legislative priority, and Mississippi lawmakers should notback down.