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MADD Kentucky Pushes Ignition Interlock Devices for All D.U.I. Offenders



Kentucky lawmakers have advanced a bill aimed at reducing drunken driving by increasing the use of a device that blocks vehicles from starting if the driver isn't sober.

The bill backed by the state's bourbon industry and the Mothers Against Drunk Driving group had stalled at a recent House Judiciary Committee meeting. The measure came up again on Wednesday, and committee members voted to get the bill moving again.


The proposal now heads to the House. If it passes there, it would return to the Senate to consider changes made by House members.

The bill aims to expand use of ignition interlock devices by making them available to first-time DUI offenders. Kentucky's existing interlock law makes the devices available to repeat offenders and drivers caught with extremely high blood alcohol concentrations.

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The group Mothers Against Drunk Driving is working with state lawmakers, judges, and prosecutors to advance a bill in the General Assembly that would strengthen Kentucky's drunk driving laws.

Senate Bill 85would update the state's ignition interlock device laws to include everyone convicted of a D.U.I., not just repeat offenders.

Ignition interlock devices are installed under a vehicle's dash. Before the vehicle can be started, the driver  must exhale into the device.  

Frank Harris, Director of State Government Affairs with MADD, said Kentucky has an outdated approach. 

"The commonwealth doesn't utilize ignition interlock for all drunk drivers and we know the best way to change someone's behavior is by insuring that they install an interlock after a D.U.I. conviction for at least six months, and this bill follows best practices already utilized throughout the country," Harris said.

The bill sailed through the Kentucky Senate two weeks ago, and survived a first  hearing in the House Judiciary, but has been stalled in commmittee. 

Supporters are expecting the measure to move out of committee Wednesday.

You can hear more of our conversation with Frank Harris by clicking the "Listen" button above. 

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