Father Crusades For Tougher DUI Penalties

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Updated: 2/20/2011 6:08 pm Published: 2/19/2011 8:27 pm

Erin Swezey was a singer, an OSU student, and a 20 year-old victim. She died 22 months ago when a drunk driver slammed into her car outside Oklahoma City.

As if that wasn't painful enough, it's what her family discovered after she was killed that's pushed them to advocate for tougher drunk driving punishments in our state.

“It was the furthest thing from our minds when the highway patrol troopers came to the door and told us that our daughter had been killed in an accident,” Dr. Keith Swezey said.

The drunk driver was heading the wrong way on the highway, but that's not what upset Erin’s father most.

“He had a whole series of DUI convictions going back about eight years, maybe more,” Dr. Swezey told FOX23.

Both Erin and the drunk driver died that night. Her family's heart ache fueled their desire to change our states drunk driving penalties.

“In order to move on, we decided ‘What can we do that's a positive thing from this?”

That’s when the Erin Swezey Act was born.

“When someone is convicted of drunk driving, when they get their driver's license back after a period of time, it will have dui conviction stamped on the front of the license.”

That's just the start of how the bill would change DUI punishments in Oklahoma.

Another piece of the legislation that Dr. Swezey is pushing for is an ignition interlock of every person convicted of drunk driving in Oklahoma, that's a breathalyzer they would have to pass before turning on their car.

“There are several other states who just this past year, passed laws that require the ignition interlock device,” he said.

As the bill makes its first appearance in the state house Thursday, Dr. Swezey knows Erin can't come back, but she can still save lives.

“I know she felt that drunk driving there was no excuse for it, it's like giving someone a loaded weapon and setting them loose.”

Dr. Swezey has set up a Facebook page about the Erin Swezey act, it is linked it on the FOX23 Facebook page. He’s hoping to have the support of thousands of Oklahomans by the time the bill heads to a Senate Committee hearing on Thursday.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

jsquirre - 10/28/2011 9:30 AM
0 Votes
Lemons- i received a dui in sand springs and researched the court system and discovered what the judge would issue as a first time offender and spoke with the da and then completed all required before my initial court date with no lawyer and had my charges reduced to reckless driving. Drunk driving can occur at anytime and anywhere. frequent offenders do need to pay the consequences for their actions and tightening the laws will have a minor affect but we need more officers on the roads more education for our young drivers and possibly a better public transportation system. there are many ways to help fix the problem but making the consequences more severe don't seem to work because usually when they are caught it is too late.

clover - 10/27/2011 4:09 PM
0 Votes
Unfortunately I was a repeat offender in my younger years. I was in a different state with laws that aren't as strict as OK's. The first one was a slap on my wrist, nothing. My second one I lost my lisence for a year and had to pay a small fine, another slap on my wrist b/c I still drove. The thrid offense I had to pay a hefty fine and only avoided jail time b/c of my long standing work eithic and with the help of my lawyer. I had to get a breathalyzer on my vehicle after a year of no license again so I could continue working. The breathalyzer WORKS people. If the state can find a way to enforce offenders to put these on their vehicle, they don't even have to take the license fully away. You still have to work to pay your fine and drive to do community service. Drunk drivers need to be educated on how not to be repeat offenders. That was one of the ONLY things that worked for me besides maturity. I never intended to drive drunk, but once you pass a certain point you are no longer in control of your intentions. Another thing that worked for me was that my community service had to be with MADD. To have to interact with others who have lost loved ones was a real eye opener to me. I thank God that I haven't drank in years and that he spared me from ever taking someone's life. Now this is something very close to my heart... I pray this law goes through!

Slivaf - 2/24/2011 9:32 PM
0 Votes
I hate to say it, and I am not trying to lighten the fact that the parents daughter died to a drunk driver, but I really doubt that harsher penalties would prevent all people from driving drunk. I am also not so sure why the doctor likened it to "giving a loaded gun to someone." I am a firm believer in it really depends on the person who holds the gun, or keys in his or her hand. Obviously not everyone drives drunk, thank goodness, likewise for the fact that not everyone with a loaded gun starts shooting up the place that they are in. I am sorry for the doc's loss, and I hope they are finding something to help fill the void left after their daughter left this world, though I know that is no easy task. Nick

bc18cb - 2/22/2011 9:51 AM
0 Votes

bc18cb - 2/22/2011 9:43 AM
0 Votes
The father should look up Greg's Law. It was created for almost the same circumstances. A 16 year old boy that was killed on the turnpike by a drunk driver that had several previous convictions.

lilmilk71 - 2/21/2011 1:09 PM
0 Votes
Amen to the comment on all those attorney ads Why are there so many willing to help those that go out and kill the innocent just to turn a buck!!! Stop advertising "Call us we'll get you out of your DUI" but stop letting people off their DUI's as well. And yeah seatbelts savelives sure however just as many killed in drunk driving fatalities ARE wearing their seatbelt ironically its the drunk drivers who didn't buckle up either that unfortunately survive!!!

roadhunter - 2/20/2011 11:13 AM
0 Votes
Most people killed by drunk drivers aren't wearing seatbelts. If you really want to save lives, you'd campaign for cars that can't be started unless the seatbelt is in use.

Unwashed Mass - 2/20/2011 10:26 AM
1 Vote
This sounds like a good idea, IF you can get around the corruption and kickbacks surrounding the court-ordered installation of these devices. They are outrageously expensive and some agencies have used them just as another source of revenue (rather than a necessary evil). The true costs need to be public record and not buried.

Lemons - 2/20/2011 8:56 AM
1 Vote
It's ironic that the advertisements below my comment box are ads on how to beat a DUI. That's the whole problem, too many lawyers who get these people released to do it again. Maybe the lawyers should be charged with accessory when their clients get off and they kill someone driving drunk.
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