An Ankeny couple whose son died in an accident caused by a drunken driver is backing legislation at the statehouse that’s part of Governor Branstad’s agenda to combat distracted driving.
The bill would create a new 24-7 monitoring program to allow a judge to order twice-a-day sobriety tests for drivers who test way over the legal limit, or cause an injury, or refuse a breath test at the scene of a first offense.
Jan and Gregary Franck of Ankeny are lobbying for the bill on behalf of their son Gregary Wade Franck who was struck and killed by a repeat drunken driver in August of 2015 while on an organized bike ride in Des Moines.
“Wade was killed at 10:00 on a Sunday morning by a driver that had three times the legal limit,” Jan Franck said. “He’d been drinking since 5:00 that morning.
It was the driver’s third arrest for drunken driving. Franck said he had a court-ordered interlock system on his car so he borrowed his girlfriend’s car that day.
“If we had had 24/7 that day he would have been unable to pass the test and would not have been driving that morning,” Franck said. “He would be in jail.”
Backers say similar programs have reduced repeat drunken driving offenses in other states that have allowed judges to mandate 90 days of sobriety.
“It’s led to fewer accidents on the road for the states that have done the 24-7 program,” said Rep. Zach Nunn (R-Bondurant).
Under the program a judge could order participation as a condition for pretrial release or parole. A warrant could issued for the arrest of a participant who doesn’t show up for the sobriety test.
The bill is part of a package of recommendations from the Iowa Impaired Driving Coalition which the Department of Public Safety convened at Governor Branstad’s request.
“We think this is a great step forward,” Franck said. “It's been years since Iowa has done anything to improve or strengthen its drunk driver bill in Iowa and this is the next logical choice.”