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Tougher Law Needed to Remove Repeat DUI Offenders and Make KY Communities Safer

Our Lexington car accident lawyers report that tougher law is needed to remove repeat DUI offenders and make KY communities safer.

Habitual drunk drivers are a menace to communities across Kentucky and every effort should be made to hold them accountable. In the wake of a May DUI-related crash that killed a Lexington attorney who was bicycling, state lawmakers have introduced legislation to make it easier for police to identify habitual drunk drivers and remove them from Kentucky roads.

A bill filed by state Rep. Kelly Flood of Lexington would extend the state’s look-back period for DUI offenses to 10 years from five. This would increase the likelihood repeat offenders could be charged with a felony and sentenced to prison for one to five years, according to a Kentucky.com article by the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Mark Hinkel, 57, was riding his bicycle in the Horsey Hundred event in  Scott, Fayette, Franklin and Woodford counties on May 23 when a truck driver hit him head-on, throwing his body onto the truck bed cover and carrying him for three miles before police stopped the driver.

The truck driver Odilon Paz-Salvador, 29, is charged with murder, aggravated DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, failure to render aid, wanton endangerment of other bicyclists and fleeing and evading police. Paz-Salvador told police he didn’t know Hinkel was on the back of his truck, even though officers said they saw a hole in his windshield and damage to the truck, a Kentucky.com article.

Paz-Salvador initially indicated he had been charged with DUI nine times and had two DUI convictions in the past five years, according to the report. The Herald-Leader could find court records on only three previous DUI charges.

In Kentucky, a fourth DUI conviction in five years nets a felony charge. The proposed legislation would set the time frame at 10 years to make it easier for law enforcement agencies to identify repeat DUI offenders and take them off the streets.

Hinkel’s family said this type of legislation could help put repeat drunk drivers behind bars and prevent similar tragedies from happening again.

Preventable Crashes

Kentucky reported an average of 168 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities from 2010 to 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Three bicyclists were killed in traffic accidents across the state in 2013.

Considering that alcohol-related accidents are preventable, more steps should be taken to remove repeat DUI offenders from the roadways.

The move to hold repeat DUI offenders responsible and put them in prison, if necessary, to protect the motoring public from deadly alcohol-related car crashes is welcome and long overdue in Kentucky. We encourage the Kentucky Legislature to show leadership on this serious problem to make our communities safer.

Families also can hold drunk drivers accountable by filing a civil lawsuit to seek compensation for the harm caused. A civil lawsuit is an entirely separate legal procedure from any criminal prosecution the drunk driver faces. Consult a knowledgeable Lexington car accident lawyer about your legal rights after a serious accident.