Family of teen killed in Oldham County crash fights to change Kentucky DUI law
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Since Lily Fairfield’s birthday, Zoe Fairfield was in awe of the tiny thing her parents brought home.
“She had a nickname, ‘Lillylovesalot,’” Zoe said.
The sisters grew up together, playing, jumping on beds, dressing up, and later doing what teenage girls do.
“We went to get her senior portraits done,” Zoe said. “We had a lot of fun with that.”
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But Lily, never got to graduate. On November 10, as Zoe drove Lily to school, all of those hugs, those giggles, got ripped away.
While coming up on a hill on West Highway 42 in Lagrange, police say a pickup truck crossed into Zoe’s lane. Police added the car in front of them swerved and landed in a ditch. The truck then slammed head-on into the two sisters.
Zoe remembers the driver of the car in front of them, running to her and holding her hand as she lay on the floor with a broken back.
“I am so grateful that he did that because I, in that moment, I felt so alone,” Zoe recalled.
Devine has not been charged in connection to the fatal crash. Oldham County Police are waiting on the toxicology report in order to determine if Devine had consumed any substances that would have led to the tragedy.
Soon after the crash, sources reached out to WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters and said to look up the arrest history of the pickup driver, Theresa Devine.
Devine had a collage of mugshots from several different counties for a total of 13 arrests. Some of those charges were of theft, burglary, driving without a license and violating probation.
But it was the citation from Louisville that WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters found that shook Lily’s father.
“It’s so far beyond my comprehension, I don’t even, I can’t even fathom how they would get out,” Lily’s father, Mark Fairfield said.
Just three days prior to Lily’s crash, Devine had been charged for allegedly driving impaired.
The detailed LMPD report said Devine was driving erratically, swerving and crossing the lane into oncoming traffic.
The officer wrote that she appeared to be severely impaired and disheveled.
He said her speech was slurred and her eyes glassy and droopy. The officer also indicated she was disoriented and confused about where she was headed.
Devine admitted to taking a powerful narcotic typically used for opioid addiction, he said.
However, despite the citation’s description and her history of arrests, Devine didn’t have to stay in jail. She wasn’t given a bond either.
Devine wasn’t required to go before a judge and walked away with a piece of paper and a court date. That process was all thanks to a Kentucky Supreme Court order allowing for what’s known as administrative release.
“I understand that she is a person. But my daughter was too and she took my daughter’s life away,” Mark said.
Administrative Release was adopted in 2017 as a way to expedite the release of low to moderate risk defendants. The charges eligible are non-violent, non-sexual misdemeanors and DUIs. There are no judges involved, only a review of suspect and the charge.
When it comes to those driving impaired, the law mandates that in “no event shall the defendant be detained for more than eight hours.”
It’s something that Fairfield’s attorney has seen far too often.
“The fact that it’s part of a system where you can be released without paying a dime to get out, even though it’s the one crime we throw in your face all over this city, is shocking to me,” Morgan and Morgan Attorney Danielle Blandford said.
The law says those who have violated a condition of release or those who failed to appear on a charge are not eligible.
According to Devine’s record, she’s been charged with violating her probation at least three times.
“Don’t just slap them on the wrist, make them pay for it,” Blandford said. “Because now they’re having to pay for her mistake and that’s not fair.”
Zoe and her father are now focused. They want the law to change.
“Anything that could harm, or could, kill anyone else, that has the potential to harm anybody else, I think that should be taken off the list,” Zoe said.
Mark pledges to fight for change too.
“I don’t want a parent to ever have to deal with that again,” he said.
Now Zoe will turn to Lily for strength once again. This time to take on the law and help others.
“I just know that she would say that she’s proud of me,” Zoe said.
On November 22, Devine pleaded guilty to the DUI charge she received on November 7th. Judge Julie Kaelin sentenced Devine to 30 days, conditionally, meaning Devine has to stay out of trouble for the next two years or she will go to jail for 30 days.
Devine was released from custody on that conviction the same day.
Kaelin did not include any other condition as part of her release, including attending any substance abuse treatment.
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