Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

Congressmen Cohen, Chabot Introduce DUI Reporting Act

March 8, 2018
Press Release
Bill aims to stop repeat drunk drivers from being charged as first-time offenders

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) today introduced the DUI Reporting Act to address the loophole in our nation’s drunken-driving laws that enables repeat DUI offenders to be charged and tried as first-time offenders because of inconsistent reporting.

Along with the endorsement of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a bipartisan coalition of legislators joined the effort as original cosponsors and include: Ryan Costello (R-PA), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Trent Kelly (R-MS), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), Tom Marino (R-PA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), David McKinley (R-WV), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).

Congressman Cohen pointed to 2015 a case just outside his district in which two teenagers from Memphis were killed by a drunk driver who had accrued seven DUI charges but had been allowed to plead guilty five times to a first-offense DUI charge.

The bill would harmonize law enforcement reporting of DUI arrests, allowing police officers anywhere immediate access to the latest and most accurate data, including pending cases, at the time of traffic stops.

“This bill will save lives by enacting common-sense, bipartisan reforms to harmonize reporting standards for DUI offenses across the states,” Congressman Cohen noted.  “A DUI somewhere should be recognized as a DUI anywhere. It should not matter where you are caught driving drunk. If you drive drunk, previous offenses should be recorded and penalties should increase so innocent lives can be saved. The accrual of multiple first-time DUI offenses is unconscionable and must be brought to an end.”

"Drunk and impaired drivers pose an incredibly serious threat to our nation's families, but there are steps we can take to improve this dangerous situation,” said Congressman Chabot. “For example, most estimates suggest that approximately a third of all DUI offenses are committed by repeat offenders. And yet, there isn’t a centralized list of DUI offenses that states can reference when determining the appropriate punishment for those convicted of driving while intoxicated. As a result, older convictions or charges from other states can get overlooked, which can lead to lighter punishments or a quicker restoration of driving privileges than the law would otherwise allow. The legislation we are introducing today will help make our communities safer by providing states with an accurate and complete list of DUI convictions, thereby making it easier for states to keep habitual drunk drivers off our streets."