MADD Pleased With New DUI Law

Thursday, July 2nd 2009, 5:19 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Oklahoma law is now getting tougher on drunk drivers who get behind the wheel with children on board.  There are dozens of laws on the books aimed at protecting our most vulnerable citizens and punishing those who wish to do them harm.  One mother says four years ago she discovered a hole in the legal safety net.

"In 2005, my son was a victim of a DUI crash where his father was the driver," said Monica Di Santo, drunken driving victim's mother.

Monica Di Santo says her then 11-year-old son was thrown from the car, when her ex-husband slammed head-on into another driver.

"It was two and a half hours later that I got to see that my son was alive," said Monica Di Santo.

Court records show Di Santo's ex-husband was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and causing bodily harm to the second driver. Her son survived the accident, but she feels like her ex-husband was never held fully responsible.

"Ya know, four children in the car and not one charge pertaining to them. The anger is what drove me to work with Mothers Against Drunk Driving," said Monica Di Santo.

Di Santo fought for her child and others to get the law changed.  Now if you're caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and you have a child in the car, you could face double trouble:  felony DUI and felony child endangerment by DUI.

"So, I thank the legislature. I thank them dearly for thinking of children. They just didn't pay it lip service. They passed a law with some teeth in it to protect our children," said Tulsa County DA Tim Harris.

Law enforcement officers from all over the Tulsa-area stood shoulder to shoulder vowing to enforce the new law.

"So, we are warning you right now, do not take the risk, do not drink and drive," said Broken Arrow Police Sgt. Ed Ferguson.

Law enforcement will be out in full force this holiday weekend, so the new law is top of mind.  If convicted, you could face double fines and up to four years in prison for child endangerment by DUI.