Family of deputy killed in drunk driving crash pushing for new DUI laws

Interlock device for first offenders
Posted at 5:51 PM, Mar 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-14 18:46:08-04

The parents of a Hillsborough County Deputy killed by a drunk driver are working to make sure other families don’t experience the same grief.

The images of John Kotfila’s car are still hard to look at.

His cruiser torn apart after a drunk driver going the wrong way on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway hit him head on last March.

RELATED: Wrong-way crash on Selmon Expressway claims lives of Hillsborough deputy and wrong way driver

Kotfila’s father, a Sgt. with the Massachusetts State Police, had seen countless DUI cases before, but nothing like this.

“You don’t realize how much it effects your life until it actually reaches out and touches you,” he said.

Kotfila’s parents are now turning their grief into a mission to toughen DUI penalties.

They spoke out in their home state.

Now Tuesday, they are in Tallahassee supporting legislation to require first-time DUI offenders to have ignition interlock devices installed for six months.

Cars won’t start until drivers blow into the interlock device and register below the legal limit.

Right now, it’s only required for repeat offenders.

“We are helping these persons help themselves and also saving lots of lives,” said Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, who is sponsoring the legislation along with Rep. Cord Byrd, R-Neptune Beach.

“If one family doesn’t have to go through what our family is going through right now, then it’s worth it,” said Kotfila Sr.

MADD’s National President says the interlock devices are not full proof, but they have stopped thousands from driving drunk, especially in the 28 states where it’s used for all offenders.

“Florida needs a little bit of an extra nudge to keep going and making sure that anything that could be used would be used here. Looking for Florida to become the 29th state,” said Colleen Sheehpey-Church.

The driver who killed Kotfila, Erik McBeth, also died in the crash.

Investigators said he was more than three times the legal limit.

RELATED: Crash witness says 'Deputy Kotfila' slammed into wrong-way driver to save another driver on Selmon's

Sarah Green said Kotfila shielded her car from the impact, sacrificing his life to save hers.



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