Bill strengthening Kentucky’s driving under the influence laws passes House

Shot depicts the consequences of driving while intoxicated.

Legislation to update state policies dealing with driving under the influence passed through the House on Thursday. It was then sent back to the Senate where it was finally passed and sent to the governor.

Senate Bill 85, sponsored by Sen. Whitney Westerfield, seeks to change state DUI laws to provide treatment, and clarifies and expands the laws related to ignition interlock devices. Westerfield has said the bill will save lives by implementing a policy to put ignition interlock devices, which tests the blood alcohol level of the driver, in the vehicles after a first driving under the influence offense.

After failing to receive enough votes in committee to pass originally, the bill was heard for a second time in the House Judiciary Committee where it saw passage.

Former House Speaker Jeff Hoover noted on the floor that the bill was originally heard in committee and did not pass in that meeting, but was then taken up again in committee where it passed and was moved to the House floor. However, Hoover stated there should have been a motion to reconsider by the House before it was placed back on the agenda of the House Judiciary Committee.

House leadership discussed the issue after Hoover’s point of order and decided it was properly in front of the House because there was an audible motion noted by the chair of the committee the bill would be taken back up.

Senate Bill 85 passed through the House with changes made in committee as well as floor amendments tweaking some of the punishments laid out in the bill and other changes.

Rep. Richard Heath, who carried the bill on the floor, Rep. Jim Duplessi, and Rep. Dennis Keene gave heartfelt testimony in speeches on the floor about the personal experiences of those close to them who have been the victims of wrecks after being hit by a drunk driver to illustrate the importance of strong laws keeping people from getting behind the wheel when intoxicated.

Senate Bill 85 now heads to the governor for his consideration.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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