Caitlin’s law imposes stiffer punishment on repeat drunk drivers in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. -- On Friday, Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer signed into law stiffer penalties for repeat drunk drivers who get behind the wheel and harm or kill another person.

The parents of a Stillwell, Kansas, woman pushed for the change after losing their daughter nearly two years ago to a drunk driver with prior convictions.

The tougher punishment is being called Caitlin's law, for 24-year-old Caitlin Vogel. Vogel worked in the Olathe school district, helping teach children with developmental disabilities.

Courtesy: Facebook, with permission from Caitlin's father

A two-time drunk driver ran a stop sign and struck and killed Vogel in May of 2016, near 191st Street and Nall Avenue.

James McAllister drove a friend's car to bypass the interlock device that  was supposed to restrict him from driving his own vehicle.

A judge sentenced McAllister to less than 10 years behind bars, prompting Vogel's friends to seek a change in the statutes.

Gov. Colyer signed the law on Caitlin's birthday, she would have turned 26.

"From what I understand, the wheels of Congress don’t usually move this quick," said Patty Vogel, Caitlin's mother. "The fact that they scheduled things to make the law work appropriately, to be signed on her birthday, we couldn’t be more pleased."

In many cases the new law more than doubles the range of punishment for those with multiple convictions of driving under the influence.

Lawmakers and the Vogels hope it makes those who like to drink and dirve think twice before getting behind the wheel.

The Vogels say with ride sharing services like Uber, there's no excuse for putting the public at risk by driving while intoxicated. The Governor says the only reasonable explanation is selfishness.