Senate bill which increases look-back period for DUI offenders passes House

03/23/2016 06:38 PM

FRANKFORT – The Kentucky House has passed Senate Bill 56 which would provide stronger penalties for habitual drunk drivers.

SB 56, sponsored by Sen. Dennis Parrett, D-Elizabethtown, passed 98-0, would expand the so called “look-back-period” for prior drunk driving offenses from five to 10 years.

In Kentucky, a fourth DUI conviction in a five-year period is treated as a felony. The clock for determining penalties for offenders is reset after five years under current law. By increasing the look-back period, convictions remain on a person’s record for a longer period of time, which will be a consideration during sentencing for repeat offenders.

The act will be known as the “Brianna Taylor Act”, in honor of a 17-year-old Elizabethtown High School graduate who was killed in an auto accident in 2014 caused by a recurring DUI offender, who could only be charged with the first offense driving under the influence because of the look-back limits.

The bill also changes the days that a report must be filed with the Administrative Office of the Court to 180 days from 90 days because of the time it takes to perform lab testing.

Rep. Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington, voted in favor of the bill in honor of his friend, Lexington attorney Mark Hinkel, 57, who was killed by a repeat drunken driver exactly ten months ago Wednesday in Scott County.

That driver had up to nine previous DUI offenses — most occurring in the five years before Hinkel’s death, according to news reports on the case.

“My friend Mark Hinkel was involved in a bicycle race and as he traveled close to the finish line, a habitual drunk driver struck him head on,” Benvenuti said. “And about 39 minutes after he was first contacted by that pickup truck by that habitual drunk driver, he was pronounced dead.”

Rep. Bam Carney, R-Campbellsville, said that it was time to start sending a message that law abiding citizens will be protected from criminal behavior.

“When you make that choice to get behind the wheel intoxicated, it can be any one of us at any time,” Carney said. “As far as I’m concerned it should be a lifetime (look-back). How many chances to you need folks?”

Mark Hinkel’s widow, Mary-Lynn Hinkel was in the gallery to watch the proceedings and was appreciative of the legislators who worked to pass the legislation.

“It’s not going to bring him back, but hopefully this is a step to have this tragedy be prevented for another family to have to go through this,” Hinkel said. “It’s unbearable, and we miss him so much, and I just want to make sure that this doesn’t happen to another family.”

The measure now returns to the Senate, where it passed in January on a 35-1 vote, for that chamber to consider a minor change made to the bill by the House. Because SB 56 contains an emergency clause, it would take effect immediately if it becomes law.

Currently, 31 states currently have a DUI look-back period of at least 10 years. Four states have a lifetime look-back period for DUI.


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