Lawmaker's personal story prompts tougher DUI legislation - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Lawmaker's personal story prompts tougher DUI legislation

State Rep. Dennis Keene (D-Wilder) (FOX19 NOW) State Rep. Dennis Keene (D-Wilder) (FOX19 NOW)
The devices would test the operator’s breath for alcohol before allowing the engine to start. (FOX19 File) The devices would test the operator’s breath for alcohol before allowing the engine to start. (FOX19 File)
FOX19 -

In a state where bourbon is king, a Kentucky lawmaker whose daughter was nearly killed by a drunk driver wants tougher laws for even first time offenders.

State Rep. Dennis Keene (D-Wilder) is proposing mandatory ignition interlock devices for all motorists convicted of drunk driving.

The devices would test the operator's breath for alcohol before allowing the engine to start and it would not have any cost to taxpayers, according to Keene.

A drunk driver nearly killed Keene's daughter, Kelly Keene Jones, in 2002. She required three subsequent surgeries and is now an outspoken advocate for tougher DUI laws and House Bill 60.

“This legislation is proven to reduce DUI deaths and injuries and will help keep a parent from receiving that dreaded knock on the door,” said Keene.

The bill has passed five times in the House of Representatives but always dies in the Senate. Keene is optimistic this time around, citing bi-partisan support along with a federal grant that could incentivize the devices.

After the grant, offenders would foot the bill.

“The cost of the alcohol interlock device is about $3 to $4 a day or about the cost of a drink,” Robyn Robertson of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation of Canada. “There will be no cost to the Kentucky taxpayers if the program is enacted; all costs are borne by the convicted offenders.”

24 states have passed all-offender ignition interlock laws and those states have seen a reduction in drunk driving deaths up to 45 percent, according to Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.

Kentucky Distillery Association and Anheuser-Busch endorse the measure, Keene says.

“You're not going to stop people who are addicted to alcohol, but you are going to stop people making bad decisions. And that's what the interlock system does,” Keene told FOX19 NOW.

He'll be joined on Tuesday by MADD and families impacted by drunk drivers for the 2:30 p.m. press conference in Frankfort.

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