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Why are DUIs increasing in Kentucky?

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Posted at 7:18 PM, Oct 31, 2022

(LEX 18) — Following the death of London Police Officer Logan Medlock at the hands of a suspected drunk driver, an in-depth look shows that DUIs are increasing in Kentucky.

Alex Otte, president of Moms Against Drunk Driving or M.AD.D, said stories like Medlock's are becoming more common.

"To know that this is something that could have been prevented by one person's simple choice is devastating," said Otte.

Early Sunday morning, officer Medlock died on duty after a suspected drunk driver crashed into his cruiser.

The driver, 36-year-old Casey Byrd, was arrested and charged with murder and driving under the influence.

According to the arrest citation at the time of his arrest, Byrd had a blood alcohol level of .294, more than three times Kentucky's legal limit of .08.

"It is devastating to me, as someone who lives with the consequences every second of every day of the rest of my life, of someone else's choices to drink and drive," said Otte.

While the exact number of on-duty officers killed by drunk drivers is hard to estimate,

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists motor vehicle-related incidents as the leading cause of death for law enforcement officers in the United States.

While Kentucky has one of the lowest drunk driving rates in the country, the past few years number have seen significant increases.

"We were headed in the right direction for about the last 40 years and the past few years have really put a detriment to that and Kentucky is one of the worst," said Otte.

Otte explained the pandemic is a big contributing factor.

Since 2020, Kentucky ranked in the top 7 percent for states that saw an increase in crashes that involved drunk drivers, with cases spiking ahead of the holidays. Particularly the day before Thanksgiving known as "black out Wednesday."

"From then until New Year's Day, we see an increased number of deaths," said Otte.

As cases keep climbing, Otte said stricter laws could be part of the answer to decreasing DUI numbers.