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Shock Probation Prohibition in Fatal DUI Cases

The Kentucky House is expected to vote this week on proposed legislation to prohibit shock probation in driving under the influence cases that involve fatalities. The measure emerged from the House Judiciary Committee last week.

Bill Sponsor Robert Benvenuti testified the legislation would affect those convicted of second degree manslaughter or reckless homicide in DUI cases. The Lexington lawmaker says, under current law, families of victims may discover those convicted of the crime have been released months after serving part of their time.

“Often only after serving 60 days, 90 days, or six months for taking the life of another individual because they chose to be impaired while driving,” Benvenuti said.

Testifying in support of the bill was Carolyn Scharf, whose 17-year-old daughter died after being hit by a drunk driver in 1985.

“Shock probation let her walk out of Jefferson County jail after 63 days," Scharf said. "Our loss is a lifetime sentence. There is no shock probation for us.”

Michigan resident Debbie Moskwa also offered testimony to the committee. Her son died in 2002 in a four-car drunk driving collision while traveling through Kentucky along Interstate 71.

After the committee meeting, the two women said they’ve been working for a decade to see legislative action on the shock probation measure.

Stu Johnson is a reporter/producer at WEKU in Lexington, Kentucky.
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