New statewide DUI law helps local police

Gov. Robert Bentley signed a new bill stiffening penalties for drunk driving into law last month, doubling fines and penalties for motorists convicted of aggravated DUIs.

A DUI is considered aggravated when a driver’s blood alcohol level is point 15 or higher.

Clanton Police Chief Brian Stilwell said the new law could do nothing but good.

“Fines and jail time we hope would deter people from driving under the influence,” he said. “But any tool that we can use helps us.”

Stilwell said that even before the law was signed in, Chilton County had already taken steps to remove drunk drivers from the road.

“[Chilton County] used to lead the state in DUIs,” he said. “It was amazing that we had that many in a dry county. But we’ve done a pretty good job at cutting them down.”

Clanton has reported 42 instances of Driving Under the Influence so far in 2011, with 11 of those qualifying for aggravated.

Stilwell said something as simple as having more officers on the road can help problems too.

“The big deterrent is officers being out there,” he said. “We’ve reduced wrecks by 33 percent just by having our officers out there.”

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