DUI crash victims’ families say DUI laws in Kentucky are weak

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 5:03 PM EDT
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KENTUCKY (WYMT) - The case of a former UK student charged in a DUI case has some pleading or the state to make tougher DUI laws.

Jacob Heil was found not guilty of reckless homicide, but guilty of DUI in the death of 4-year-old Marco Shemwell in 2018. The end result was a $500 fine.

Some say more needs to be done to give prosecutors more tools.

“I was angry, I was sad, devastated, because this was one of those cases, like so many of them, that strike close to home. But, this one was just so close,” said Alex Otte, the new president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD.

Alex Otte knows the pain caused by DUI.

Nine years ago, she was severely injured in a DUI crash on Lake Herrington. Since then, she’s fought for tougher DUI laws, including a recently passed breathalyzer interlock ignition starting device required for some offenders.

She says so much more needs to be done.

“The problem that sticks out to me the most is, if DUI was viewed as a violet crime in the state of Kentucky,” said Otte. “It is a violent crime, but it’s not treated that way in the state of Kentucky.”

One prosecutor said, when it comes to deadly DUI cases, most will push for either manslaughter or reckless homicide. They added that it is extremely rare to get a murder conviction in a DUI case.

One of the rare murder convictions in DUI happened in Whitley County in 2007, when Raymond Garner was sentenced to life following a crash on I-75 that killed two people and left four others seriously hurt.

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