|If you're caught drunk driving and plead "no contest," you can still retain your driver's license, after the WV Legislature tinkered with the DUI laws during the last session.|
Defendants who plead "no contest" instead of "guilty" retain their driver licenses until lengthy state hearings are held.
Anti-DUI activists are livid, after some lawmakers championed the action saying they were protecting the rights of accused drivers.
Previously, if an officer caught a person drunk, and the driver pled "no contest," the accused would have automatically lost their driving privileges with the DMV.
Now, each case must weave its way through the court system, allowing drunk drivers to continue to drive.
Legislators who wanted the law changed claim it was a violation of due process.
Also, a highly unpopular initiative by the Division of Motor Vehicles to find uninsured motorists is being axed.
The legislature passed a bill killing a 14-year-old DMV initiative where the agency sends letters to a random pool of vehicle owners asking them to verify their auto insurance coverage.
If the recipients didn't respond within 20 days, a certified letter was sent, warning them of repercussions - revoked registration and a suspended license.
Critics of the DMV program said it contains severe flaws and unintended consequences.
The DMV admitted they penalized more law-abiding motorists than those without insurance because people ignored the letters or didn't understand them.
The DMV currently mails about 1,300 letters a month and it doesn't matter if you have a squeaky-clean driving record or have piles of traffic citations.
Placing the burden of proof on the general public was not popular.