A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

MADD honors Westerfield, Heath as “Legislators of the Year” for support of ignition interlock legislation


Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has named two Kentucky “2019 Legislators of the Year” for their tireless work to pass a law requiring ignition interlocks for every drunk driver after the first offense.

On March 26, Kentucky became the 33rd state in the nation with an all-offender law, thanks to Senate Judiciary Chairman Whitney Westerfield, who authored the lifesaving legislation, and Representative Richard Heath, a victim of drunk driving who led the charge for the bill in the House.

“MADD is so grateful to Senator Westerfield and Representative Heath for their passion, leadership and advocacy,” said MADD National President Helen Witty, whose 16-year-old daughter, Helen Marie, was killed by a drunk and drugged teen driver.

“Kentucky has one of the highest rates of fatalities from impaired driving, but one of the lowest rates of using a simple device that can prevent them – ignition interlocks.

“The solution was an enormous undertaking by a number of groups over several months, and if the effort saves even a single life, it will have been worth it,” Senator Westerfield said. “I’m honored and humbled by this recognition by MADD, and I share it with the entire Kentucky team on behalf of the thousands of Kentuckians whose lives have been affected by impaired driving. Together, we’re making a difference.”

States with all-offender laws like the one in Kentucky saw drunk driving deaths fall by 16 percent. In addition, interlocks reduce recidivism and teach sober driving.

“If this saves just one life, it is worth it, but we know that it will save thousands of lives,” Rep. Heath said. “This is a simple, straight-forward and effective way to keep drunk drivers off our roads. I was honored to be part of this process and appreciate that MADD has named me a legislative champion.”

In all, MADD recognized 45 state lawmakers for their commitment to saving lives. For the full list, visit madd.org

Many of the 2019 Legislators of the Year have played a major role in MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, which was launched in 2006. A key component of the Campaign calls for the passage of all-offender interlock laws. Prior to the Campaign, only one state — New Mexico — had an all-offender interlock law. This year, new laws in Kentucky and New Jersey brought the total to 34.

Other components of MADD’s Campaign include supporting high-visibility law enforcement, such as sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols, advocating for development of advanced alcohol detection technology in all new vehicles and taking personal responsibility by always planning ahead for a non-drinking driver when plans include alcohol.


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