Appeals Court Says Shorter Sentence for Repeat DUI Offenders

In an attempt to clarify some of Alabama's drunk driving laws, a state appeals court has shortened sentences for those convicted of driving under the influence.

According to most local law enforcement, the current rule of four DUI convictions as a felony is the way to go.

In the past, four DUI convictions at all would end up as a felony charge. But now, the court of criminal appeals has ruled that a motorist must have the four DUI convictions within a five-year span.

Houston County Sheriff's Department Captain Antonio Gonzalez said there would be, "Felony time after that if you put a time constraint or a time limit on it; it weakens enforcement for law enforcement. As far as getting them off the street they are a danger to society."

A side effect of multiple DUI’s ends up with the individual drivers license being revoked. But even though many have no license to legally operate a motor vehicle, they still impact the traffic situation in Alabama.

Alabama State Trooper, Sgt. Tracy Nelson said, "A good percentage [of these wrecks], around 40% of accidents, where someone is killed in the state of Alabama, 40% of them, the person that is driving in fault does not have a drivers license."

Gonzalez added, "What is occurring is it is a disease for them; alcoholism and it's something that has to be treated and it's usually long term. Most of the time it's more than five years."

Repeat offenders can be a large problem for enforcing the law. The main problem is that someone can have multiple DUI convictions over the course of their life and never be charged with a felony, as long as they are dispersed to stay away from four in five years.

Sheriff Andy Hughes told News 4 one DUI is too much, but four is excessive and should warrant a felony no matter what the time frame.

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