Dustin’s Law moves slowly at state level
by JOYANNA WEBER, Banner Staff Writer
Jun 05, 2013 | 1200 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A ROTARIAN shakes hands with Kim Ledford as her husband, Danny Ledford, looks on. The Ledfords are working for harsher sentencing on the first offense in vehicular homicide cases when perpetrators have a blood alcohol content of .2 or higher or .08 with methamphetamine in their system. Dustin’s Law has been considered at the state level but has not been passed.  Banner photo, JOYANNA WEBER
A ROTARIAN shakes hands with Kim Ledford as her husband, Danny Ledford, looks on. The Ledfords are working for harsher sentencing on the first offense in vehicular homicide cases when perpetrators have a blood alcohol content of .2 or higher or .08 with methamphetamine in their system. Dustin’s Law has been considered at the state level but has not been passed. Banner photo, JOYANNA WEBER
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A fiscal note attached to Dustin’s Law is making passage of the bill a slow process at the state level.

Kim Ledford spoke about the law, named in honor of her son who was killed by a woman driving the wrong way on APD 40, to the Rotary Club of Cleveland on Tuesday.

“I do believe Dustin’s law will get passed. Right now there is a fiscal note on it and that is what is hanging it up,” Ledford said.

Changing the law is expected to cost $664,000 due to the increased number of incarcerations, according to previous reports.

State legislators Eric Watson, Kevin Brooks, Mike Bell and Todd Gardenhire have worked with the family to develop and support the bill.

“Whether you kill someone with a gun or with a vehicle you are still making a choice,” Ledford said.

She said the woman who hit Dustin made a choice to drink alcohol and made a choice to drive while under the influence.

Dustin’s Law would change the sentencing for someone with .2 or higher blood alcohol content from vehicular homicide on the first offense to aggravated vehicular homicide if the driver is involved in a fatal accident while driving under the influence. If the bill is passed a driver with a blood alcohol content of. 08 and methamphetamine in his or her system would also be charged with aggravated vehicular homicide.

The night of Dustin’s death, Kim and her husband, Danny, had been visiting friends in Georgia and planned to stay for the weekend. A call from Dustin’s girlfriend at 1 a.m., saying she thought he had been in a car accident, had the couple out of bed and on the way back to Cleveland. Kim said she called a neighbor and asked her to go to the hospital and see what she could find out. As the neighbor was driving to the hospital she passed the scene of the accident.

“It looks like a bomb went off,” Kim recalled the neighbor saying of the car.

As the couple neared Cleveland, the police officer who had worked the wreck called Kim and told her Dustin had not survived the accident.

Kim said after the shock of what had happened began to wear off she wanted to do something to honor the memory of her son.

“I realized that I had to do something,” Ledford said. “I didn’t want Dustin to have died in vain. I wanted to be able to make a difference. I speak in about seven counties right now to DUI offenders.”

Ledford said she focuses on how the decision to drive while under the influence affects other.

“Dustin didn’t have a choice that night — it was taken away from him,” Ledford said.

A scholarship has also been established in Dustin’s memory.

“Dustin was pretty much our life,” Ledford said.

She told of how the couple adopted Dustin after health issues meant they could not have children of their own. Kim Ledford said Dustin was an active boy playing on baseball teams from the time he was 3.