Topeka Two Kansas agencies are working together to set up a system to track drivers with multiple drunken driving convictions in an effort to ensure that they are taken off the state's roads before causing serious accidents.
The Kansas Department of Transportation said funding the repository will be one of its top priorities, and the system will be overseen by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, The Wichita Eagle reported Friday.
The central repository was one of the main recommendations of the Kansas DUI Commission, which met for two years to discuss how to reduce DUIs, only to find that the state's budget problems might prevent funding the recommendations.
The commission began meeting after a mother and her daughter were hit and killed by a drunken driver while walking across a Wichita street in 2008. The driver was charged with his fifth DUI after the crash, but the state's driver's license database showed only two of those convictions. Prosecutors can charge drivers with more severe crimes if they have multiple DUI convictions.
Commission chairman Sen. Tim Owens, R-Overland Park, said other efforts to reduce DUIs won't matter if the central repository doesn't exist.
"It is important for the safety of all Kansas travelers that we work diligently to decrease the number of drivers operating a vehicle while under the influence," said KDOT's Lindsey Douglas, chief of governmental affairs. "An essential step toward that safety-oriented goal, in reducing injuries and deaths on our highways, is establishing a central repository."
The repository would help prosecutors know a driver's history "to ensure that parties are charged with the appropriate offense," she said.
Funding of about $2.5 million will be spread over several years "and will have absolutely no impact" on funds for construction or safety project on Kansas roads, she said.
The commission also called for tougher criminal penalties and ignition interlocks for all drunken drivers. The estimated cost to implement all of the commission's suggestions is $11 million.