LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – The family of a 16-year-old girl killed in a crash last November in Oldham County plans to meet with legislators to toughen DUI laws.
They hope to call the change, “Lily’s Law”.
Protecting others from drunk or drugged drivers has become a way for Zoe Fairfield to honor her sister Lily’s short but inspiring life.
“I know she would definitely be like, ‘good job’ because she’d be like, ‘you are finally doing something that means a lot to you and I am glad that I can be the driving force behind that,’” Zoe told WAVE News Troubleshooters.
Around 8 a.m. on Nov. 10, a driver was headed up a hill on West Highway 42 in Lagrange. When he saw a truck driving in the wrong lane coming, he swerved into a ditch, he told police.
Zoe, who was driving behind him, didn’t have the chance.
Teresa Devine’s truck slammed into them, breaking Zoe’s back and killing Lily, who was on her way to school. Devine has not been charged in the fatal crash, pending toxicology reports.
“She doesn’t get to go to college,” their father, Mark said of Lily. “She doesn’t get to have kids. Yeah, we paid a price, and [Lily] paid a price.”
It’s Devine who Mark said didn’t have to pay, despite getting arrested for a DUI three days before the crash.
According to the police report, Devine admitted to taking narcotics and had them with her. The report detailed how out of it Devine appeared, not knowing where she was headed.
The officer wrote Devine was slurring her speech and could not walk straight or follow commands.
Due to Kentucky’s administrative release laws, Devine was let out of jail right away without a bond or being placed on home incarceration.
In fact, she never even saw a judge despite having more than 10 other prior arrests with multiple parole violations.
“If they had truly looked at her history, and looked at what she did in that arrest,” the Fairfield’s Attorney, Danielle Blandford said, “She shouldn’t have been administratively released.”
Blandford pointed to the fact that nearly 20 percent of all driving deaths in Kentucky are because of drunk or drugged driving.
The Fairfield family believes the current DUI laws are unacceptable. Police are making roughly 15,000 arrests a year, only for the driver to get a slap on the wrist, Mark explained.
“Give them a chance to do their job, and it’s taken out of their hands right now and I just don’t understand that concept at all.”
With Blandford’s help, Zoe and her dad are soon meeting with senators and state reps. They’re now armed with a list for DUI reform.
For starters, they want to change the administrative release laws to ensure they’re being used appropriately for DUI’s.
They also want to start requiring a 72 hour hold for the first DUI offense, and increase financial penalties for a second offense.
Finally, they want a DUI charge to be considered a felony, not a misdemeanor at the third offense, not the fourth as the law currently requires.
“You were only caught four times, not that you did it four times, you were caught for times,” Blandford said.
An average of more than 130 people die every year in the Commonwealth because of DUI’s.
The Fairfields’ say they are ready to make lawmakers see why they believe change is a must.
“If you were in my shoes, wouldn’t you want these laws to be changed as well?” Zoe said.
The family is asking for the public’s help by writing or calling their state representatives and senators to support their proposed reforms.
Devine’s toxicology results related to the fatal crash are pending according to Kentucky State Police. They are expected before the end of March.
To find and contact Kentucky legislators, click here.
Copyright 2022 WAVE. All rights reserved.