Newly proposed law pushes rehab instead of jail time for repeat DWI offenders

Photo provided by KADN staff.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - 10:46am

Driving while intoxicated is a problem in Louisiana, and hundreds in the state have more than one DWI offense on their records. Now, lawmakers are trying to stop the epidemic of drunk driving with new laws.

Seven of John Gaines’ family members and friends were ripped from his life just a year ago. They were the victims of a drunk driving accident and the man responsible was a repeat offender.

"It's been a roller coaster. Like bouncing a basketball, down up, down up. And it's really, it's taken its toll," said Gaines.

But there are hundreds of multiple offenders in the state of Louisiana. Newly proposed laws are aimed at helping them before tragedy strikes again. Right now, a third offense means a year of jail time, but this law would allow rehab to be an option instead.

"So it's not eliminating the jail time. It’s trying to eliminate them from coming back on a fourth offense before they actually kill someone, before they do something worse," said Representative Joe Lopinto, the bill’s author.

Gaines said rehab may have stopped Brett Gerald from getting behind the wheel that night and causing the fatal accident.

"You get to that second and that third and nobody is applying the law or what the law says. Then the system is supposed to look at that particular individual and if it's going to rehab or whatever, that's good, do that. But to just let them, slap them on the hand and walk," added Gaines.

But, for the Gaines family, any new laws against DWI offenders are coming just a little too late.

“Let's try and get our law makers and people to stop looking the other way and apply themselves to make sure the rules and regulations and the laws that are on the books are enforced properly," exclaimed Gaines.

The deadly accident happened almost a year ago to the day. Brett Gerald, the man responsible, just had his sentenced reduced from 70 years in jail down to 35 years, just five years for each person who died.


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