Senate passes Goodwin bill raising penalties for DUI with kids in the vehicle
STATE HOUSE – Those driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a child in the vehicle will face a felony charge with stiffer penalties under legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin and passed by the Senate today.
“Drunken or drugged driving becomes something much worse when a child is in the car. Besides threatening his or her own safety and that of everyone else on the road, that driver is risking the life of a child for whom he or she is supposed to be responsible – a child who has no choice or control over their presence in that car. That’s a more serious crime that warrants stiffer penalties. Making it a felony with tougher sentences will send a strong message that makes people think twice about endangering kids in this way,” said Senator Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence).
Currently, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a child under 13 in the vehicle does trigger an additional sentence of up to a year in prison that cannot be suspended or deferred, but the charge can be a misdemeanor, depending on other factors. Senator Goodwin’s bill would automatically make it a felony, add an immediate license suspension pending prosecution and raise the penalties to up to five years in prison, up to two years of license suspension and up to $5,000 in fines.
On Memorial Day weekend, Jarvis Williams, 34, of West Warwick, was arrested on Route 95 in Richmond, where police say he was driving under the influence and at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour with a three-year-old in the back seat.
The bill (2018-S 2867) will now head to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Robert A. Nardolillo III (R-Dist. 28, Coventry) is sponsoring similar legislation (2018-H 7223).
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903