Advocates push for stronger DUI laws in Kentucky

Police say a woman is facing a DUI charge after a wreck killed three people on Interstate 75....
Police say a woman is facing a DUI charge after a wreck killed three people on Interstate 75. (Twitter: @Seth_Dugan)(WKYT)
Published: Sep. 6, 2019 at 5:01 PM EDT
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A victim in a DUI crash is working to end a tired argument that DUI arrests aren’t ‘violent’ crimes.

"From my standpoint, being a victim of a crime like this, it's heartbreaking that it keeps happening," says Alex Otte, who volunteers with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Otte lost part of her leg after being hit by a drunken boater. The operator was a repeat offender, who’s also been charged again since the crash that injured Otte.

Now, Otte is pushing for harsher laws in DUI arrests.

"We need prosecutors, judges, to recognize that as well as the general public. We need to look at drunk driving as a violent crime and treat it as such."

Otte says crashes, like the one that killed three on Interstate 75 late Wednesday night, are hard to see – especially when the suspect has previous DUI charges.

The woman accused in that crash Wednesday night, 42-year-old Tammy Rodriguez, had four previous DUI arrests, making this most recent crash her fifth charge since 2003.

“Is it OK for these people to keep offending until someone dies? That's the heartbreaking part about it. What if we had stopped her? These lives wouldn't have been lost.”

Advocates say the state’s new ignition interlock law is a step in the right direction to crack down on repeat offenders. It was signed into law this year but still doesn’t go into effect until July 2020.

The device is designed to check a driver’s sobriety before they can start a vehicle. The new law will require the devices even for first-time offenders.

Which brings to the forefront perhaps the saddest aspect of DUI crashes. They are all preventable.