Oklahoma court's DUI ruling upholds legal standard

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: October 2, 2013
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Those victimized by repeat offenders in the ranks of drunken drivers may disagree, but the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals got it right with a ruling on DUI charges.

The court said a new state law can't be applied retroactively. The law treats second DUI cases as automatic felonies and was used against defendants with a previous DUI conviction despite those defendants having completed their sentences. One of them was Ronald “Skip” Kelly, an Oklahoma City Council member until his defeat at the polls last spring.

Had he won another term, and had the retroactivity been upheld, Kelly could have been removed from office upon his felony conviction. This is now moot: He lost the election and the appellate court said the law can't apply to defendants with previous but now discharged DUI convictions.

Oklahoma has been cracking down on drunken drivers for years, joining a national trend of low tolerance for those who drive while inebriated. (Unfortunately, the Legislature's tolerance for people who drive while texting remains high.) Lowering the blood chemistry threshold for what constitutes inebriation was a major step.

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