Legislator Won’t Give up on DUI Legislation

Ashland Daily Independent – A Kentucky legislator is using the death of a Floyd County woman to bring attention to legislation proposed in the last legislative session that would have required all convicted DUI offenders to have breath analyzer locking devices installed in their vehicles.

Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, said the life of Tiffany Adams Blankenship might have been saved if the bill he proposed during the legislative session, House Bill 58, had passed in the Senate. The bill was approved with a vote of 95-0 in the House but was never brought up for a vote in the Senate.

Similar legislation passed in the House in 2010 but did not get approval from the Senate, according to a press release from Keene. The bill would have required those convicted of DUI participate in a program where interlock ignition devices, which test breath alcohol levels and won’t allow a vehicle to start if the alcohol levels are too high, are installed in offenders’ vehicles.

Keene said Blankenship, a mother of four, is just one of many victims of drunken drivers.

“It’s not only Tiffany,” he said. “There’s other young families that are destroyed in Kentucky each and every year that goes by.”

Blankenship, 22, of Beaver, was killed in a collision involving a drunken driver on Tuesday. She was riding in a car with Judith Blankenship, 50, of Beaver, traveling south on Ky. 979 near Ligon. A vehicle driven by Malen Mitchell, 37, of Beaver, crossed the center line from the northbound into the southbound lane and struck Judith Blankenship’s vehicle, causing it to cross into the northbound lane. The vehicle was struck again by a vehicle driven by Jennifer Newsome, 29, of Wheelwright, who was traveling north, according to a press release from Kentucky State Police in Pikeville.

Tiffany Adams Blankenship was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the press release.

Mitchell was arrested and lodged in the Floyd County Detention Center. He has been charged with one count of murder, one count of driving under the influence — third offense, one count of driving with a suspended license and one count of leaving the scene of an accident.

The fight against drunken driving is a personal one for Keene, whose daughter was injured in a drunk driving collision in 2002. Kelly Keene Jones had to have three surgeries because of her injuries.

He said the effect of that accident has been life-changing for him.

“You don’t know what it’s like when you get that phone call,” Keene said.

He said he plans on proposing similar legislation in the next session of the General Assembly.

“I will carry this bill until either it passes or I’m out of office,” Keene said.

To read the full article, click here.

Paid for by Dennis Keene for State Representative Campaign
LRC photos courtesy of LRC Public Information