KY ready to start using new ignition interlock law for drunk drivers

A car-ignition breath test machine. (Source: Dale Mader, WAVE 3 News)
A car-ignition breath test machine. (Source: Dale Mader, WAVE 3 News)
Theresa Martinez (Source: Dale Mader, WAVE 3 News)
Theresa Martinez (Source: Dale Mader, WAVE 3 News)
Ashley Martinez (Source: Family photo, Theresa Martinez)
Ashley Martinez (Source: Family photo, Theresa Martinez)
Bill Bell (Source: Dale Mader, WAVE 3 News)
Bill Bell (Source: Dale Mader, WAVE 3 News)
Brad Fralick (Source: Dale Mader, WAVE 3 News)
Brad Fralick (Source: Dale Mader, WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - This weekend, you'll notice more talk of targeting drunk drivers. Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over is the traditional push to crack down before Labor Day. This year there's a new tool almost ready to hit Kentucky streets.

We've heard advocates for years push for car-ignition breath tests. Kentucky's law requiring ignition interlock devices for anyone convicted of a second or subsequent DUI offense went into effect June 24. The kinks are just about ironed out to get them in cars and keep families from suffering heartbreak.

Ashley Martinez's mother now goes by a different title.

"I'm a MADD volunteer," said Theresa Martinez, "and how I became a MADD volunteer is my 23 year old daughter Ashley was killed by a drunk driver."
 
Martinez is trying to turn her tragedy into advocacy.

"Hopefully I will make a difference to each and every one of you," said Martinez.

The work that MADD did, pushing the state for ignition interlock requirements, has paid off. Bill Bell, Executive Director of Highway Safety, says Kentucky is almost ready to start putting them in the cars of drivers with a second, third, fourth - or beyond - DUI.

"We wanted this a month ago and we've been working toward this for the last three months so for me to give you an exact date, I can't do that but very soon," Bell said.

All devices in Kentucky will come with a camera to verify the person taking the test is the person behind the wheel. The devices retest at random while driving. Don't take the test or fail, and, "the horn will start honking when you have a violation: beep, beep, beep, beep, beep,continually and you can't stop it unless you pull over on your own and shut the car off," said Brad Fralick, the Director of Government Relations for Intoxalock, one of the companies providing the ignition interlocks in Kentucky.

Bell hopes it will keep other mothers from knowing what it's like to be Theresa Martinez.

"Hopefully it will be a deterrent," said Bell. "Hopefully it will get
people thinking, 'I need to figure out how I'm going to get home safely now, before I go out.'"

A judge can order an ignition interlock device during a pretrial hearing ... even before a conviction. Some of them, like the one made by Intoxalock, even include real-time communication so a violation would be discovered within minutes.

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