Group calls for bipartisan support of Senate Bill 85
For Immediate Release – February 20, 2019
FRANKFORT, Ky – Today, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) joined Senator Whitney Westerfield and a variety of traffic safety stakeholders to call for bipartisan support of Senate Bill 85, which will prevent drunk driving in Kentucky.
The group worked for months to help draft the bill, which strengthens Kentucky’s DUI laws and ignition interlock device (IID) program with best practices from other states.
Kentucky’s IID program began in 2015 with legislation that requires repeat DUI offenders and first offenders with a .15 blood alcohol concentration or higher to install the breathalyzer devices on any motor vehicles they operate.
“That law was an important step in Kentucky’s efforts to prevent drunk driving,” said MADD National President Helen Witty. “Now we want to expand the lifesaving benefits ignition interlocks to reach more offenders and stop the irreversible damage this violent, preventable crime causes to individuals and families.”
At a press conference in the Capitol Wednesday, Senator Westerfield – the bill’s sponsor – explained that Senate Bill 85 would allow and incentive ignition interlock devices for all DUI offenders and shift administration of the program from the courts to the Kentucky Department of Transportation.
It would also move Kentucky toward a more compliance-based model, in which DUI offenders would have to complete a 120-day period of sober driving before exiting the program.
The changes are intended to increase participation, reduce DUI recidivism, and ensure consistent program administration between counties.
They are supported by a broad group of stakeholders including the KDA, MADD, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Administrative Office of the Courts, Kentucky County Attorneys Association, Coalition of Ignition Interlock Manufacturers, Kentucky Sheriffs Association, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, Insurance Institute of Kentucky, Kentucky Travel Industry Association, Volunteers of America Mid-States, AAA, Kentucky Guild of Brewers, Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Kentucky, and the Kentucky Beer Wholesalers Association.
“This diverse group has come together to do what’s best for Kentucky,” said Sen. Westerfield, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Senate Bill 85 is an example of effective criminal justice policy that will improve government efficiency, and most importantly, increase the safety of our state’s highways.”
Senate Bill 85 recently passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee with favorable expression and is expected to receive a vote in the full Senate Wednesday afternoon.
More than half of U.S. states already have some type of all-offender ignition interlock requirement in place.
A 2018 study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that the number of impaired drivers in fatal crashes falls 16 percent when states require interlocks for all DUI offenders, including first offenders.
A compilation of studies reviewed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also revealed a 67 percent reduction in recidivism when ignition interlocks are used.
“We hope Kentucky will experience similar positive impacts once the General Assembly passes this important legislation,” said Senator Morgan McGarvey, who has also come out in support of the bill.
While numbers decline, Kentucky still saw 24,576 individuals convicted of a DUI in 2017. These drivers killed 154 people and injured 2,781 more – devastating Kentucky families and placing a high financial burden on the state’s judicial and healthcare systems.
Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) physically prevent drunk driving while allowing DUI offenders to remain mobile to work and care for family. They also change behavior without placing DUI offenders behind bars.
“IIDs are an evidence-based best practice known for their ability to change behavior, reduce recidivism, and save lives,” said KDA President Eric Gregory. “Our signature industry offers full support to this impaired driving countermeasure because we know it is one that works.”
For more information, contact: Ali Edelstein, KDA Director of Social Responsibility, (502) 424-5841.
Founded in 1880, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association is the historic voice for Kentucky’s signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry. Its diverse and growing membership produces 90 percent of the world’s Bourbon, from legendary, global brands to emerging micro distilleries that are fostering the next generation of the Commonwealth’s timeless craft and treasured economic engine. Member benefits include media relations, international trade development, private sampling events, technical assistance, economic development support, networking, legal defense, marketing strategies, governmental and regulatory advocacy and innovative tourism experiences through the KDA’s world-famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® adventures. The KDA maintains an open membership policy, champions a strong commitment to the responsible and moderate consumption of spirits, and fights to curb underage drinking and drunk driving. Learn more at www.kybourbon.com and www.kybourbontrail.com. KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL®, KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL CRAFT TOUR®, KENTUCKY BOURBON AFFAIRTM, KBTTM, and BOURBON TRAILTM are trademarks/service marks of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. Please savor our Bourbon and distilled spirits like a true Kentuckian – Responsibly.