Sheila Lockwood carries the insurmountable grief of dropping a toddler to a drunk driver. However she has channeled that grief right into a tireless effort to reform DUI legal guidelines.
And a few of that work could also be paying off.
Lockwood’s son Austin was killed in 2018, when a automobile he was using in swerved off a street close to Three Lakes, Wisconsin. The motive force, Eric Labahn, survived the crash however was charged with murder after his blood alcohol examined at .117.
“He was going 72 miles an hour on the time he misplaced management, which is sort of double the pace restrict,” Lockwood stated.
Labahn had an Illinois license, and since he refused a breathalyzer take a look at his license ought to have been instantly suspended. However as a result of Wisconsin doesn’t take part in an interstate compact of states that share data, Illinois was by no means instructed in regards to the crash. And he continued to drive.
The truth is, when his household moved to Wisconsin whereas his costs had been nonetheless pending, Labahn was in a position to get a license in that state, regardless of the deadly accident.
“There isn’t any penalties till the trial,” Lockwood stated. “There isn’t any repercussions for taking a life.”
Labhan would ultimately be convicted of the fees and draw a three-year sentence. However Lockwood started a tireless effort to deal with the lack of knowledge sharing by some states.
“Austin did not go away us for no motive,” she instructed NBC 5 final yr. “We have to do one thing to honor him.”
Now, two state legislators in Wisconsin, Sen. Chris Larson and Rep. Deb Andraca are introducing laws so as to add Wisconsin to the states which share data by way of the Driver License Compact.
“Including Wisconsin to the interstate Driver License Compact will shut a harmful loophole, enhance information sharing and finest practices transferring ahead,” Andraca stated in an announcement. “And assist maintain harmful drivers off the street — in Wisconsin and each member state.”
At the moment, Wisconsin, Michigan and Georgia are the lone holdouts within the interstate settlement. Whereas the destiny of the Wisconsin laws is unclear, Lockwood says she is hopeful.
“It is there and it is obtained help, so I hope that we see it,” she stated.
And she or he’s already seen one other vital victory.
Lockwood was amongst many activists urgent Congress to require anti drunk-driving expertise in all new vehicles. And that requirement was included within the infrastructure invoice signed into regulation by President Joe Biden two weeks in the past.
The gadgets may start showing in new vehicles as early as 2026. hile the precise nature of the expertise is unclear, the federal government estimated the requirement may save greater than 9,000 lives a yr.
“It implies that no different household has to undergo what we went by way of, hopefully,” Lockwood stated. “I simply do not wish to see one other household undergo what we have been by way of, as a result of I reside it each minute of each day.”