Group speaks out against breathalyzer law aimed at DUI offenders - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Group speaks out against breathalyzer law aimed at DUI offenders


By Chris Wright WDRB-TV Fox 41 News


Kentuckians convicted of drunk driving may face a stiff new penalty.

There is proposed legislation that would put breathalyzers in the cars of anyone convicted of a DUI. The bill passed unanimously in the house Tuesday, but as it heads to the Senate, some say this is the wrong way to discourage drunk driving.

The idea behind ignition interlock devices is pretty simple. You blow into a breathalyzer, and if you are over the legal limit, your car doesn't start. The debate over how they should be used is more complicated. Groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving say interlock devices keep drivers who shouldn't be on the road off of it.

"We know from research that between 50 and 75 percent of individuals who have a suspended drivers license continue to drive anyway illegally, and this allows them to drive legally and also keep the public safe," said Angela Criswell in 2009.

If the current bill passes, anyone found guilty of drunk driving would have to install one in their car; even first-time offenders barely over the legal limit of .08.

The American Beverage Institute is speaking out against Kentucky's bill, and similar legislation in other states.

"It treats someone who is one step over the legal limit as a hardcore offender, the same as someone who has had over ten drinks prior to driving," said director Sarah Longwell.

Longwell says legislation like this is a stepping stone for groups like MADD. She says they would eventually like to see ignition interlocks in all new cars.

"This new technology down the road would eliminate the ability to have a glass of wine with dinner, or beer at a ball game then drive home," said Longwell.

Eleven other states have already passed similar legislation, and while the Beverage Institute doesn't question the effectiveness of interlock devices, it says they aren't a cure-all for drunk driving.

"It's like treating someone who goes five miles over the speed limit, and someone who goes 45 over exactly the same. It doesn't make any sense, and it's not how our laws work," said Longwell.

A similar bill was also passed by the House last year. It did not make it through the Senate.

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