Are Nevada's DUI laws strict enough? - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Are Nevada's DUI laws strict enough?

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Clark County DA Steve Wolfson said that while Nevada's DUI laws are strict, more can be done. (FOX5) Clark County DA Steve Wolfson said that while Nevada's DUI laws are strict, more can be done. (FOX5)

Police believe the common denominator in a series of recent automobile accidents is people driving under the influence.

The death of Metro Explorer Angel Velasquez marked the 59th traffic-related fatality in Metro's jurisdiction this year and the 12th related to impaired driving.

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson believes more should be done to prevent tragedies such as this, including stiffer penalties for first-time DUI offenders.

Three crashes in three days last week left several people injured and Velasquez, 19, dead. Three drivers are behind bars in connection with those wrecks. All of them are suspected of having driven drunk.

"They are killing people, or they are ruining people's lives. I just can't believe that people are still doing it because if you do it, you are going to go to prison," Wolfson said.

Despite that, Wolfson said Nevada has strict DUI laws. The aforementioned crashes are considered felonies because in each instance someone was significantly injured or killed. That means an automatic prison sentence of up to 20 years.

Wolfson said our laws are not strict enough for first- or second-time DUI offenders.

"I think jail time. I think people need to spend a minimum of five days in jail for a DUI offense. That would send a pretty strong message," Wolfson said.

However, Wolfson said that would come with concerns about costs and overcrowded jails.

Wolfson said he'd also like to see mandatory breath interlock devices in the vehicles of convicted drunk drivers.

Defense attorney Chip Siegel believes it is those who provide alcohol who should face harsher penalties.

"This is a 24-hour town. Alcohol flows pretty freely at the casinos, different clubs. There is no liability for the casino in the state, so Nevada is unique," Siegel said.

"I don't have the simple answer. I, like you, am frustrated and scared. I drive on the same roadways that you do, and there are people driving next to us every day under the influence of alcohol and illegal drugs," Wolfson said.

Wolfson said he has five attorneys solely dedicated to DUI cases and that of the hundreds of people arrested each year in Las Vegas for DUI, his office convicts more than half of them.

Metro said there were 31 alcohol-related vehicle fatalities last year. So far, they've made more than 3,600 DUI arrests this year.

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