Proposed legislation could make it tougher for drunken drivers to re-offend

Proposed legislation could make it tougher for drunken drivers to re-offend
Ariel Camilo/

A tragedy is prompting a possible change to drunken driving laws in our state. The proposed law would make it tougher for drivers to re-offend in a 24-hour period.

News 3 Now Investigates first brought you the story of Jennifer Kilburn last year. The Kenosha woman was injured by a drunken driver who had been arrested and the released earlier that same night. Rep. Samantha Kerkman, R-Salem Lakes and Rep. Jim Ott, R-Mequon are drafting legislation that would prevent suspects from leaving custody while inebriated.

Kerkman tells News 3 Now Investigates that she was inspired by Kilburn’s story.

“It tugged at my heart strings,” she said.

Kilburn was driving to her nursing job on Aug. 9 when she was hit by Jesse Liddell. Liddell had been taken into police custody earlier that night for driving while intoxicated. Drunken driving offenders can be released to a responsible party if it’s their first or second offense. Liddell was released to his mother but quickly went back out on the road and hit Kilburn.

“I wish he would’ve truly that night made a different choice and went home and slept it off, we wouldn’t be talking about this today,” Kerkman said.

The proposed legislation would prevent suspects from being released to a third party while still intoxicated.

“Sitting in a jail cell isn’t a fun place to be and hopefully we will kind of scare somebody into not wanting to do it again,” Kerkman said.

Kilburn told News 3 Now in December that she wanted to prevent her pain from happening to someone else and now her dream is becoming a reality.

“Whatever I do and however I change the statues isn’t going to impact her case because we can’t go back retroactively, but going forward ‘Can I make a change?’ I think that’s what’s really important here,” Kerkman said.

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