Device raises the cost of getting a DUI

Local counties are making it easier to enforce a law they hope makes your drive safer. McCracken County has finished getting a number of businesses certified to install devices that keep repeat DUI offenders from drinking and driving again.

It doubles the cost of getting a DUI. Let’s take a third time offender for an example. Between a $500 fine and legal fees, it costs them $1,500 without the device. With the device, you have to pay a fee to be deemed eligible to use it. You also have to pay more than $100 for the installation on top of a monthly payment. This could come out to more than $3,000. That’s why some hope it keeps repeat offenders off the road.

Former Missouri police officer Ben Gilkey looks through pictures from May 2007, remembering the moment he thought he lost it all.

"I was begging the medic to take my cell phone out of my pocket and call my kids. I just wanted to tell them bye," Gilkey said.

Years after moving back home to Kentucky, he still deals with the aftermath of the accident, caused by a drunk driver he tried to pull over while on duty.

"I’ve had panic attacks with my kids in the car, and they don’t understand that," Gilkey said.

In the hopes of preventing accidents like this, the McCracken County Attorney’s Office is working to better enforce a law that requires repeat DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices in their cars.

Ignition interlock devices are essentially a portable breathalyzer you install in your car. In order to start their cars, drivers have to blow into the device until they hear a clicking sound, and then they have to suck the air back in, all while a camera is taking pictures of them.

The county just finished getting a number of businesses certified to install the devices. Assistant McCracken County Attorney Todd Jones says the problem is since it passed in July, many areas have had issues enforcing it. 

"There’s some counties that don’t understand procedure or don’t have any certified installer," Jones said.

Gilkey says it’s still a step in the right direction.

"I still consider myself one of the lucky ones," Gilkey said. He hopes more people will be able to say the same.

In the 12 west Kentucky counties in our area, 15 places are certified or in the process of getting certified to install the devices. Numbers from the state show they are in McCracken County, Graves County and Marshall County.

All second and third time offenders are required to get the devices installed in their cars, and first time offenders in certain cases. For example, when their blood alcohol concentration is double the legal limit.

The way the device works varies on the manufacturer and the offender. In some cases they have to blow into it every 10 minutes to continue driving.

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