• Proposed law would make driving drunk with children in vehicle a felony


    ROSWELL, Ga.,None - Roswell Police have arrested another mother on charges she was driving drunk with kids in her car.

    According to an arrest report obtained by Channel 2's Mike Petchenik, officers pulled Emily Lee, 41, over on Holcomb Bridge Road near Steeplechase Drive early Sunday morning after they witnessed her swerving.

    Lee told officer she had a glass of wine several hours earlier, but she refused to submit to a Breathalyzer test. The report said two 13-year-olds were in the backseat.

    Lee was charged with DUI and child endangerment and was booked into the Roswell Detention Center. Her arrest is the latest in a string of instances involving adults accused of driving drunk with kids in the car.

    Two weeks ago, Roswell police arrested Ashley Shields, 34, after they said she crossed the center line and crashed into two other vehicles on Old Alabama Road. Investigators said Shields' toddler was in the backseat.

    "I think it's more common than people realize," said Barry Martin, executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Georgia. "In fact, more than half the children killed in a DUI-related crash are the passengers of the DUI offender."

    Martin said MADD is pushing for new legislation that would stiffen the penalties for people convicted of driving drunk with children in their cars.

    Senate Bill 13, which is currently being debated at the Capitol, would make it a felony after the second offense. It would also require police to notify the Department of Family and Children Services for an investigation.


    "It's currently treated as a misdemeanor," Martin said. "We think it should rise to the level of child endangerment and child abuse if there's an injury involved."

    Criminal defense attorney Justin Spizeman told Petchenik that making the offense a felony could cause a myriad of issues for the system and his clients.

    "If it becomes a felony, the punishment goes from a year in jail for a misdemeanor, to at least a year in jail for a felony," he said.

    Spizeman told Petchenik that state solicitors typically prosecute DUI cases, with district attorneys handling a small percentage of them in cases that involve felonies.

    He said making this offense a felony would require DAs to specialize in a field to which they aren't accustomed.

    "The question would be: Is what kind of training do they have to handle these very technical cases?" Spizeman said.

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