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Lawmakers mull harsher drunk driving penalties for themselves

Lawmakers in Maryland are considering harsher penalties for public figures who are convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol. Interestingly enough, the idea is being headed up by a man who was himself convicted twice on similar charges. He was sentenced to spend weekends in prison - 30 of them in a row - after his drunk driving charges, something that came about because he had been involved in an earlier drunken boating accident that resulted in injuries to six different people. Since it was his second offense, he got a stiffer penalty than he would have after just a single offense.

Now, he seems to think that the penalties for drunk driving for public officials are not enough. He is not looking to change the laws for everyone, for ordinary citizens, saying instead that public officials are supposed to set an example. He claims that the standards for them - and for himself - should be higher because of their position of leadership and power. This means that responsibilities are greater and that the punishment for breaking the laws should be more harsh for those who help to make the laws in the first place.

The idea has not been passed yet, but is simply being considered at this point. It is very interesting because the people who are thinking about passing it are the ones who would be impacted by it if it does go through.

Regardless of any changes to the law, one thing remains the same: Public officials, just like ordinary citizens, deserve fair trials after they are charged with drunk driving and other offenses. Proper channels still have to be followed, and they have a right to defend themselves if they believe that they were accused of a crime that they did not commit.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Dwyer urges tough DUI penalties for public officials" Michael Dresser, Feb. 26, 2014

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