Senate OKs Seveney legislation to impose substance abuse education fines

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — The State Senate recently passed legislation sponsored by Sen.  James A. Seveney (D-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol, Tiverton) that would impose a substance abuse fine for those who drive under the influence or fail to submit to a breathalyzer test.

The legislation (2019-S 0238A) would impose a $250 fine on any conviction of driving under the influence or a violation for refusal to submit to a Breathalyzer that would fund substance abuse programs. Senator Seveney submitted the legislation after touring the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal and discussing the need for increased funding for substance abuse prevention programs with Chief Magistrate Domenic DiSandro III.

“I’d like to thank Chief Magistrate DiSandro and Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey for their assistance in developing this alternative funding stream,” said Senator Seveney. “This legislation will require those who drink and drive to fund important substance abuse programs, which in turn will help to mitigate the incidence of driving under the influence.”

Those funds would be allocated to the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Development Disabilities and Hospitals and used to fund substance abuse programs and student assistance programs for youth.

The measure now moves to the House of Representatives, where similar legislation (2019-H 5293) has been introduced by Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton).

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