New law creates stricter penalties for those caught driving
By Russ Krebs/Tribune Staff
Nebraska motorists caught driving drunk now face more strict penalties
thanks to a new law that went into effect Friday.
LB925 was passed last congressional session and since Friday, anyone
arrested for drunken driving faces the new penalties. The
stateâ€™s legal limit for drunken driving remains at .08
percent blood alcohol content. Those caught with blood alcohol contents
of .15 percent or greater face even more strict penalties.
The new law requires upfront jail time if granted probation for
charges that did not previously require it and additional upfront jail
time for those that did. It also makes a third offense with a blood
alcohol content of .15 percent or higher a felony and increases the
felony charge for any fourth offense.
â€œThe new law makes a new category of a fifth
offense,â€ said Deputy Dodge County Attorney Mark Boyer.
â€œThereâ€™s never been a charge
(specifically) for a fifth offense.â€
Fourth and subsequent offenses used to be charged as a Class IV felony
and those convicted faced up to five years in prison. Now, a fifth or
subsequent offense carries a penalty of up to 20 or up to 50 years in
prison depending on whether the blood alcohol level is less than .15
percent or more.
The number of offenses remains figured out by considering only those
charges within the past 12 years.
â€œThis legislation has some teeth to it,
thereâ€™s no doubt about it,â€ Boyer said.
â€œThe license loss increases and so do the minimum jail
All driving under the influence charges up to and including third
offenses previously were considered Class W misdemeanors no matter what
the blood alcohol content. There was no minimum upfront jail sentence for
first offenses that received probation, two days minimum up front for
second offenses and seven days minimum up front for third offenses that
Now a first-time offender with a greater than .15 percent blood
alcohol content who receives probation must serve two days in jail and
the sentences go up from there.
â€œI think the area it could have some positive
effect is it makes it more unpleasant for the first and second time
around,â€ Boyer said. â€œHopefully that will
have an impact.â€
As of Monday afternoon, no weekend DUI charges had been filed by the
County Attorneyâ€™s Office, but anyone caught from
Friday on faces the new penalties.
â€œIt shows people the state are treating (drunken
driving) as a serious offense,â€ Boyer said.
â€œIf youâ€™re above a certain limit,
youâ€™ll see significant jail time.â€
Chronic drunken drivers also will face the crunch.
â€œThe change in the drunk driving laws has the
potential of taking repeat offenders off the street for longer periods of
time,â€ said Dodge County Judge Kenneth Vampola.
â€œA repeat offender in prison is not behind the wheel
of a car driving while intoxicated and possibly hurting someone. All of
these enhancements have the potential for deterrence.â€