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McCracken beginning to take plates

BY CORIANNE EGANcegan@paducahsun.com

Judges in McCracken County will be a little harder on multiple driving under the influence offenders from now on after announcing more attention will be paid to a law already on the books.

Judge Chris Hollowell said this week that he has begun taking license plates from those convicted of more than one DUI offense. The measure is part of the Kentucky Revised Statutes, but has never been followed in McCracken County, Hollowell said. Hollowell, who began running traffic court at the start of the new year, took his first set of plates from a multiple-offender this week.

"The law calls for ignition interlock devices, but since we don't have those, I think the fall-back language got lost in translation," Hollowell said.

The law's abandonment was pointed out by Paducah attorney Jeremy Ian Smith, who is running for Hollowell's seat as McCracken County District Judge in this year's election.

Marshall County District Judge Jack Telle said he orders the plates be turned over, but usually gives some leeway.

"It's supposed to be immediate, but you would be hard-pressed to have someone do it that quickly when they are getting sentenced at 2 or 3 o'clock in the afternoon," Telle said. "We usually give them 24 hours or schedule a review to make sure it has been done."

There are several things that those convicted can do to get out of giving up license plates, Hollowell said. They can transfer the car to a family member or friend's name, and there are also hardship provisions in the law that allow for family members to use the offender's car if losing it would hurt them financially or otherwise. While some may think that not taking license plates can help someone re-offend, Hollowell said the numbers in the county are down.

"In 2007, when (Judge W.A. "Tony" Kitchen) and I took over, there were about 170 charged with DUI second offense," Hollowell said. "Now, that number is close to about 85. The numbers are dropping, and have been since we took office."

Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.

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