FRANKFORT  (KT)  – A state lawmaker is calling for those under 21 to face tougher penalties if they drink and drive, a move that he said would both send a stronger message while closing a loophole that treats these impaired drivers differently than those 21 and older.

“My family, like many others, understands the negative impact of impaired drivers,” said Rep. Chad Aull, D-Lexington.  “In 2011, my wife and daughter were injured in an auto accident caused by a 19-year-old driver who had been drinking. I am forever grateful their injuries were not life threatening, but they will forever feel the effects of that accident. The young man in the other car posted on social media a few weeks later that he was already back driving. I believe we need to stop that quick turnaround, and House Bill 400 would do just that while increasing penalties for those with multiple offenses.”

For those under 21, a 0.02 blood-alcohol content level, or BAC, is the minimum threshold to be charged with driving under the influence, and those found guilty are either fined between $100 and $500 or sentenced to 20 hours of community service.  Aull’s bill would change that penalty by requiring their driver’s license to be suspended for one year, with no driving privileges for at least 90 days.  Afterward, a court could grant restricted driving privileges using an ignition-interlock device.

Aull said current law also does not increase the penalties for those under 21 if they are convicted more than once of drinking and driving under the 0.02 BAC standard.  His legislation would require those guilty of a second offense to have their licenses suspended for two years, with a restricted ignition-interlock license possible after one year.  For a third offense, drivers would lose their license for one year or until their 21st birthday, whichever is longer.

Any conviction would also apply to the 10-year look-back provision used to determine penalties for those convicted of multiple DUIs under the 0.08 BAC standard.  Otherwise, his bill does not change DUI law for those 21 and older.

House Bill 400 has not yet been assigned to a committee.