Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has signed a bill strengthening penalties for those who knowingly sell or provide alcohol to minors.
Senate Bill 283 by Sen. Michael Brooks, D-Oklahoma City, will require those convicted of such offenses to attend a victims impact panel program, along with other current penalties.
Brooks explained that the legislation was originally requested by a government class at Oklahoma City’s Southeast High School, who had participated in the Generation Citizen Project.
“There is nothing more powerful and heartbreaking than hearing stories of loved ones killed or injured by drunk or impaired drivers. Attending these panels is already required for those convicted of DUIs, and it’s proven successful in lowering the number of repeat offenses, which is my hope with those who are unnecessarily putting minors in danger,” Brooks said in a media release. “After three years of working on this issue, I’m beyond grateful for the overwhelming support of this bill. I want to again thank the Southeast High School students for bringing this important issue to my attention. Hopefully, parents and adults will realize the dangers of underage drinking and stop putting our youth at risk.”
Victims impact panels are live presentations featuring speakers sharing how impaired driving has impacted them and their families. Panels are done in-person to ensure a greater impact and to foster awareness of the dangers of irresponsible decisions regarding alcohol and drugs.
Rep. Ross Ford, R-Broken Arrow, carried the measure in the House.
“As a former police officer, I’ve seen first-hand the devastation and loss caused by drunk driving,” Ford said. “Making adults aware of the potential harm of their decision to give alcohol to minors will hopefully save lives. I’m impressed to see young Oklahomans taking such an initiative in crafting legislation and grateful to see this bill signed into law.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, ages 15-20. In 2018, 24% of those killed in car crashes were drunk. The NHTSA also found that in 2013, 42% of drivers with alcohol-related deaths were ages 16-24.
The new law, which is supported by the state’s largest panel, Victims Impact Panel of Oklahoma, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), will go into effect Nov. 1, 2021.
Source: Oklahoma Senate
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