Wyoming Officials Want to Keep Drunk Motorists in Jail

Wyoming law enforcement officials are pitching a new law to state legislators that will allow them to hold a DUI suspect in jail until they are sober. The effort is prompted by a recent incident where a motorist who was booked on drunk driving charges ended up hitting and dragging a man under his car shortly after being released.

On December 30, Doug Downs was arrested by the Wyoming Highway Patrol and charged with driving under the influence. During his booking around midnight he had a blood alcohol content of .11%. Downs was bonded out of jail less than an hour later and he headed to a bar where he said he drank half a beer. At about 2:00 am, Downs and friends left the bar in a Chevrolet Tahoe. It was reported later that the friends screamed that Downs had hit someone but he thought they said he had hit another car.

The victim, Jeff Irene, got lodged in the wheel well of the truck and suffered massive internal injuries. He remains hospitalized in critical condition. Upon discovering Irene, Downs tried to cover his victim and then ran away as police neared.

Downs is out on bond. He faces more than 10 years in prison if convicted on the charges of aggravated assault and driving under the influence causing serious bodily injury.

The proposed legislation would require motorists arrested for drunk driving to remain in jail for eight hours or until their BAC lowers to .02%. The legal limit for intoxication is .08%. The legislation would also standardize the policy of releasing drunk drivers after an arrest. Currently, each Wyoming county has its own guideline. Law enforcement agents have been talking to state representatives and several have expressed interest in sponsoring the bill.

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