Kentucky judges could order breathalyzers installed into the vehicles of drunk driving offenders under a bill approved Wednesday in the House Judiciary Committee.
Under current law, some DUI offenders qualify for hardship licenses. Those allow the offender to drive to and from specified locations at limited times—such as work and school—even though their regular drivers license has been suspended.
The bill would give judges the option of instead installing an Ignition Interlock Device in the offenders vehicle. Before starting the vehicle, the driver would have to breathe into the device. If the device detects that the driver has a heightened blood alcohol level, the engine won’t ignite.
The bill would also require random breath samples from the driver after the engine has been started.
“People that drive drunk make bad decisions” said Rep. Dennis Keene, a Democrat from Wilder and sponsor of the bill.
They don’t get up in the morning and say, ‘Hey, I’m gonna go kill Kelly Keene today.’ That’s not what they’re about. They just simply make bad decisions. And what interlock device does is keeps them from making bad decisions.”
Joining Keene in support of the bill was Jack Dalton, Director of the Coalition of Ignition Interlock Manufacturers, who said the devices train drivers to drive sober and would help those seeking treatment for alcohol problems.
“The studies say that the interlock is best when it is tied to a treatment component,” said Dalton, “Now you’ve got this information that is available to the treatment provider to say this person has not yet learned to separate drinking from driving so we need to take other measures.”
House Bill 286 now moves to the full state House of Representatives for consideration.