Franklin County

Assembly passes tougher DUI bill

The General Assembly has approved a bill that contained a last-minute provision adding penalties for some DUI charges, including a mandate for those convicted of that crime to buy a car ignition breathalyzer device.

But several House members raised concerns that the provision, pushed by Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, hadn't been properly vetted and could end up costing the state an unknown amount of money.

"Notwithstanding any public safety benefit that may come from it, there is certainly a fiscal local county jail impact and possibly a state impact," said Rep. Robin Webb, D-Grayson.

For instance, the state could have to pick up the tab of buying an ignition interlock device if someone convicted were declared indigent, she said.

The provision lowers the blood-alcohol level for which someone could be charged with aggravated DUI from 0.18 to 0.15. And it requires those convicted of it to use an interlock device for six months on the first offense, 12 months for a second offense and 30 months for a third offense within five years.

Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the measure didn't go through his committee before it was put into Senate Bill 34, which deals with the Alcoholic Beverage Commission, during a conference committee. The House passed the bill 70-20 Friday and it now goes to Gov. Steve Beshear.

Keene argued on the House floor that such a provision could cut down on drunken driving. "If this bill passes, it may save one family from losing a child," he said.