Kentucky DUI bill to see House floor for 6th time

Five times a Kentucky DUI bill has passed through the House, but failed in the Senate.

The bill’s author feels so strongly about his bill, he will present the bill for a sixth time, saying it’s needed to save lives. Lives like Ezra Moffett who was killed in 2012 by a drunk driver and Cory Gentry who was seriously injured last year.

Kentucky Representative Dennis Keene who authored the bill nearly lost his daughter in a drunk driving accident. Keene spoke in support of the bill in Frankfort. The bill is designed to strengthen Kentucky’s DUI laws by requiring those convicted of drunk driving to install an interlocking ignition device. The device requires the driver to pass a breathalyzer test to start their car, but it’s a hotly debated and emotional topic in the Local 6 region.

Leah Derrick says she’s seen too many drunk driving accidents in her lifetime, including the accident she survived when a family member was drunk behind the wheel, “He hit a tree dead on, swearing there was a bicycle in the way when there was no one there because he only had 2 beers.” says Derrick. She says her younger cousin was also in the car; Derrick is thankful her cousin was wearing a seat belt. However, she walked away with injuries, “I have partial feeling in my hips from where the seat belt had pinched me for so long. It knocked me unconscious.”

Derrick’s story is one McCracken County Sheriff, Jon Hayden says can be prevented, “Anything that our lawmakers can do to keep people safe is a good thing” and could see how House Bill 60 would be beneficial, “It certainly would be another deterrent.”

Defense attorney Will Kautz says the premise of the bill is almost draconian. A majority of those convicted of DUI are first time offenders. Kautz says about the bill, “It seems to pick on first offenders, I think the damage in regard to drunk driving is repeat offenders.”

But Derrick says she’ll continue taking people’s keys when she thinks they’re in danger, “It just takes that one time that they look away or they nod off or they get distracted and take someone’s life.”

Murray Representative, Kenny Imes who is co-sponsoring the bill believes the bill has gone through a number of revisions and hopes this is the year the bill will pass the Senate. Those in support of the bill say passing it into law won’t cost taxpayers anything because the devices would be the responsibility of a convicted driver to purchase and install.

Twenty four states have adopted similar legislation.

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