Governor Jeff Colyer today signed HB 2439, also known as “Caitlin’s Law” into law, joined by Representative Russell Jennings (R-122) and members of the Vogel family. The legislation is named for Caitlin Vogel who was tragically killed in 2016 by a repeat offender drunk driver in Johnson County. The initial research behind Caitlin’s law is credited to Blair Gordon, Caitlin’s former soccer coach and friend, who was motivated to seek changes to DUI policy after Caitlin’s death. Together with Representative Jennings, and other members of the Kansas legislature, Gordon and the Vogel family succeeded at getting the bill through the legislature and to the Governor’s desk on what would have been Caitlin Vogel’s 26th birthday.
“What happened to Caitlin was a terrible but preventable tragedy and we must do whatever we can as a government to try and prevent such deaths from happening in the future” said Governor Colyer, “I commend the Vogel family and Ms. Gordon for their tireless efforts to get this legislation passed to forever honor Caitlin’s memory in hopes that no one else will have to suffer what they have suffered.”
The bill, which passed both legislative chambers unanimously, strengthens penalties for repeat DUI offenders who kill or seriously injure others.
“For me, it is very gratifying to see harsher DUI penalties enacted into Kansas law in honor of Caitlin. Nothing can be done to bring her back, but knowing that others might not have to endure the pain of the loss of a friend or family member at the hands of a senseless DUI accident offers those of us close to Caitlin some measure of closure,” said Gordon.
“This bill assures those who choose to ignore limitations placed upon their privilege to drive as a result of DUI will feel the full weight of the law for their senseless act,” said Representative Jennings, the lead sponsor of the legislation, “We are sending a strong message; don’t do it, the price you pay will be very high if you do.”
“We are so honored to have our daughter’s name attached to this bill,” said Caitlin’s parents Patti and Kevin Vogel, “Caitlin’s Law will hold accountable the repeat offenders who have a blatant disregard for the restrictions placed on them for the privilege to continue to drive. Caitlin’s death at the hands of a drunk driver is a tragedy that is ours to bear for eternity. There will now be significant consequences & significant jail time for those repeat offenders who choose to drink & drive and then injure or kill someone.”
The full text of the bill is available at the following link:
The Governor has now signed 7 bills into law this session. By law, the Kansas Governor has 10 calendar days to sign bills into law, veto bills or allow bills to become law without his signature.