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Keene's Bill to Toughen DUI Law Passes House

A bill that would replace hardship licenses for DUI offenders with an “ignition interlock license” if an ignition interlock device is installed on an offender’s vehicle passed the House Wednesday by a vote of 96-0.

House Bill 60, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, now goes to the Senate for consideration.

"There was overwhelming support for justice for DUI victims," said Keene, in a statement. "The members of the House took a step forward toward saving lives and preventing families from suffering the devastating effects of drunk driving crashes. I know from experience as a parent of a daughter who was severely injured by a drunk driver, it is a call you never want to receive. I applaud my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who voted today to protect Kentuckians.”
For six years Dennis Keene has been working on this important life-saving legislation. “We have strong bi-partisan support in the Senate this year and I am hopeful that this will be the year the Senate joins in passing this important legislation,” said Keene.

An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer-type device installed in a dashboard that keeps a vehicle from starting if the driver’s breath alcohol concentration level meets or exceeds 0.02.

Before being eligible for a license tied to an ignition interlock device—which the DUI offender would have to pay for—an offender would have to be enrolled in, or already have completed, an alcohol abuse treatment program. Anyone who has been incarcerated for DUI for any period of time would be allowed to apply for an ignition interlock license, according to the bill.

Ignition interlock licenses would not be granted for use in commercial motor vehicles under HB 60. Only noncommercial vehicles and motorcycles would apply.

HB 60 would also increase the time for driver’s license revocation for a first DUI within five years from the current 30 days to 120 days to a minimum of six months and maximum of nine months. It would also require revocation of the ignition interlock license of anyone who has violated the terms of the license, or require that a camera or other monitoring device be installed along with the device in that person’s vehicle.

Continuing to drive when an ignition interlock license has been revoked would be a Class A misdemeanor. An offender who drives without court-ordered identification or monitoring would be guilty of a Class D felony and have his or her license revoked for a longer period of time.

Keene said HB 60, which is similar to legislation he has sponsored in past sessions, could save 60-75 lives every year by limiting drunk driving accidents. He explained that the devices are affordable and preserve an offender’s “privilege” to drive.

“For the cost of a pack of cigarettes a day, the offender is given the privilege—not the right, but the privilege—to drive on own roads,” said Keene.

-Staff report

Photo: Rep. Dennis Keene (via LRC Public Information)