JANUARY 15, 2016
State Sen. Dennis Parrett is continuing the fight to allow for stronger penalties for habitual drunken drivers.
Senate Bill 56, which he pre-filed this summer, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday and is headed to the Senate floor for a vote. The bill would expand what is known as the “look-back period” for prior offenses from five to 10 years.
“This measure will save lives,” he said.
Parrett, D-Elizabethtown, said in Kentucky, a fourth DUI conviction in a five-year period is treated as a felony. By increasing the look-back window, DUI convictions remain on a person’s record longer, which allows that behavior to be considered during sentencing.
“As I told my colleagues last year, I don’t want to lessen the severity for anyone, but one DUI – though it is still very serious — could be a mistake,” he said. “Two DUIs are not a mistake. Three, four and five DUIs are big problems.”
If Parrett’s legislation becomes law, it will be known as the Brianna Taylor Act in honor of the 17-year-old Elizabethtown High School graduate killed in a fatal accident on Patriot Parkway in June 2014. The drunken driver in the other vehicle was convicted of murder. Although a recurring DUI offender, he only could be charged with first offense driving under the influence because of the look-back limitation.
“This is a slap in the face to Brianna Taylor and all those killed by habitual drunk drivers,” Parrett said. “This law needs to change. Six DUIs are not mistakes and offenders need to face tough penalties for their actions.”
Parrett has had strong support for SB 56 from David and Tonya Taylor, Brianna’s parents.
Another provision of the bill, brought to Parrett’s attention by Hardin County Attorney Jenny Oldham, would help to alleviate a reporting issue by county attorneys. It changes the days that a report must be filed with the Administrative Office of the Courts to 180 days from 90. Parrett said several county attorneys consider that a necessary revision because of the time it takes to perform lab testing.
Upon passage by the Senate, SB 56 will head to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
The bill contains a clause so that it would go into effect immediately upon being signed by the governor.