Bill targets 1st time DUI offenders


Lauren Adams

PADUCAH, KY- Looking at a photograph of her and her then boyfriend, Renee Hines observes, "This is 12 days before the wreck."

That wreck happened on April 28, 2005.  It was a night that forever changed Hines' life and came close to ending it.

"I remember going down the road and seeing headlights coming toward us," she said of the crash.

The car she was riding in hit another car head on.  Her boyfriend and two friends died instantly.  In the other car, a mother and her sixteen-year-old daughter, who had just beat cancer, were also dead.

"She just got her life back and we took it. It's still difficult," Hines said, choking up.

In fact, the tragedy could have been prevented. Hines' boyfriend had been drinking.  Even still, he insisted on driving.

"He was on his way to bring me home, so that's a lot of guilt to deal with."

After waking up from a three week coma, Hines faced more guilt. She learned she was one of just two survivors.

"I cried for a minute or so until I fell out of consciousness and went back to sleep," she remembered.

Eventually, despite being given a five percent chance of making it, she made a full recovery. 

Hines believes in proposed legislation that would require breath-alcohol monitoring devices being placed in the vehicles of people caught driving drunk just once.  The bill cleared Kentucky's House Appropriations and Revenue Committee last week.

"People don't deserve to be out on the road and get hit by a drunk driver and have their life turned upside down, if not taken away."

She thinks the little device could make a big difference, "It might hit home to a lot of people and even save lives."

Scars on her neck and arms serve as a reminder of what she has survived.  Six years later, she's beginning to realize why she did.

"I was left to be a mother, that's the only thing I can think," she said, looking at her two sons playing on the floor nearby.

Kentucky State Police Spokesman Dean Patterson say the law would be unenforceable.   Paducah attorney Mark Bryant agrees, saying a sober passenger could breath into it.

Bryant says the offender could also just drive a different car, "If they know they are going to drink it'd be easy to take another car.  It's amazing how many alcoholics get out and drink on 3rd, 4th, 5th offenses. They're not afraid of anything- a Breathalyzer's not gonna impact them."

Bryant also worries taxpayers would end up footing the bill for many offenders because the devices cost several hundred dollars.

Kentucky's chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving plans a rally at the state capital Thursday in support of the bill.  Tennessee's chapter, meanwhile, wants lawmakers to make their version even stricter.