Gavel and files

NEW LAW: Aaron's Law

Last year, the Oklahoma State legislature passed a new law aimed at increasing penalties for several serious traffic offenses. Aaron's Law is named after Aaron Zentz, a 17-year-old from Yukon, Oklahoma. He was killed in 2009 from injuries sustained in an automobile collision when a woman ran a stoplight and struck the car Aaron was driving.

While the bill's author, State Representative Schwartz, also from Yukon, maintains that the goal of the new law is to discourage irresponsible driving, prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys alike have apprehensions regarding the application of this law with those already on the books. This, of course, presumes all prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys interpret the law the same way.

Addressing several violations at once, under Aaron's Law, drivers convicted of any of the following charges will automatically have their driver's license revoked for a period of 1 year.

-vehicular manslaughter

-reckless driving without regard for the safety of others

-failure to obey a traffic control device resulting in great bodily injury

-failure to stop or remain stopped for school bus loading/unloading of kids

This already stiff penalty is further bolstered by a provision in the statute that prohibits the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety from granting a modified license during the revocation period.

By comparison, a person convicted of Driving While Under the Influence is able to get a modified drivers license, allowing him or her to drive under certain conditions and with an interlock device installed. Our legislators may start out with good intentions and it always looks good for re-election in a red state to be "tough on crime." However, this new law seems to be one of the many that creates more problems and confusion that it helps the people of Oklahoma.