Driver indicted in alleged drunken driving crash that killed baby - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Driver indicted in alleged drunken driving crash that killed baby

Aliyah Braden Aliyah Braden
Wayne Braden Wayne Braden
Senator Josh Green, M.D. Senator Josh Green, M.D.
Carol McNamee Carol McNamee
Ignition interlock system Ignition interlock system

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

KONA (HawaiiNewsNow) - There's a fresh push in the capitol to crack down on drunk drivers, inspired by a baby girl.

The toddler from Kona died in an alleged drunken driving crash and is adding some ammo to the fight.

Today, a grand jury indicted Valereen Kaleohano-Knittle on eight counts, including manslaughter, and driving under the influence (DUI).

She's accused of crashing her pick-up truck into the car that baby Aliyah Braden was in, last year.

She was only 17 months old when her life was cut short.

Her family is now calling on lawmakers to stiffen DUI laws, and prevent others from experiencing their grief.

It was at the intersection of Kuakini Highway and Lako Street in Kona where baby Aliyah was killed in a car crash last May.

Her mom, Mayvelyn, was driving, and was critically hurt.

"It's as if it happened yesterday. She'll be crippled for the rest of her life," said Wayne Braden, Mayvelyn's husband.

"There's nothing that's going to make the Braden family suffer less now. They're going to cry everyday from now on and that's something that none of us should be faced with," said Senator Josh Green, M.D.

Senator Green, hopes to prevent similar tragedies with a bill to toughen DUI penalties.

He says he's fighting for change as a doctor, not a politician.

"I've seen people dragged by cars with their guts coming out of their bodies and dead within minutes after I get to see them in the ER," said Green.

Under his bill, you'll lose your vehicle for a year if your blood alcohol level is twice the legal limit, and get jail time if you have three DUI's within five years.

"Someone can go to jail for 10 days or something and then they get out and then what they go back to driving. That's where interlock is a better mousetrap," said Carol McNamee, the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in Hawaii.

MADD is pushing for a different bill that would require anyone arrested for DUI to install an ignition interlock system in their vehicle.

You blow into the device, and if your blood alcohol is more than .02, your engine won't start.

"We're a little bit stalled right now in seeing our fatalities drop. So we really feel that interlock is the next thing - not a silver bullet - but the next tool in the toolkit that will get us to another level," said McNamee.

Parts one and two of Madd's bill have already passed in the last two sessions. If part three passes this session, the interlock bill would take effect January of 2011.

It applies to anyone arrested for a DUI even if they're not convicted.

The offender would pay for the device, between $100 to $125 for installation, plus $60 to $80 per month during the revocation period, which is one year for first offenders.

McNamee says Hawaii ranks above the national average when it comes to alcohol-related fatalities on highways.

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