LITTLE ROCK (KFSM) - The Arkansas Senate Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday (March 10) to pass a bill that would allow reduced charges in certain DWI cases, according to legislative records.
The bill, which was filed by Rep. Marshall Wright, D-Forrest City, now heads for a full vote in the Senate. If it passes there it will have to be signed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to become law.
Current Arkansas law states a suspect charged with DWI has to go trial or plead to those charges. Wright's bill, HB 1282, would allow prosecutors to reduce DWI charges in certain cases.
Tammy Hahn, who is a lead volunteer for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in Northwest Arkansas, said the organization strongly opposes Wright's bill. She said the legislation is counterproductive to MADD's mission.
"It will allow [DWI suspects] to plea to a lesser charge and there are consequences with everything we do," Hahn said. "So if you're able to get out of those consequences, there's really no lesson learned. We are taking steps back instead of forward in our campaign."
Pamela Sell, the MADD program manager in Arkansas, sent a letter Tuesday addressed to all Arkansas senators urging them "to protect families in Arkansas and not take steps to weaken the DWI law in our state" by voting against HB 1282.
You can read the full letter here.
HB 1282 passed the Arkansas House on Monday on a 52 to 30 vote with bipartisan support.