ST. PETERSBURG — Years after a Pinellas County Court ordered him to install an alcohol-monitoring device in his car, Kevin Lilly is seeking a court order that will get the requirement dropped.
His excuse? His lungs can't produce enough breath for the breath-tester to read.
In 2008, Kenneth City police arrested Lilly near his home and charged him with driving under the influence and refusing to submit to a Breathalyzer test. He pleaded no contest, and his license was suspended for a year, he said. Statutory requirements also meant that for a year afterward, Lilly would also be required to use an ignition-interlock device on his car.
But when Lilly went back to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to get the interlock device installed, he discovered he couldn't breathe into the reader for long enough, he says.
It was the final step in the process, but without the device, he couldn't get his license. He's been without a license for nearly four years.
"It's a Catch-22. You can't get your license until you get that, and you can't get that," Lilly's attorney, James D. Beach, said.
A representative from the DHSMV was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.
Lilly didn't know he had lung problems. But he worked for years as a welder building condominiums, and says he thinks that, coupled with years of smoking, have limited his lung function. Doctors agree.
According to a complaint Beach filed in Pinellas County on his behalf, Lilly has "obstructive and restrictive lung disease" which means he cannot breathe into the device for the required five seconds, even with settings reduced to their lowest point.
"My whole intent is to get my license so I can go get a job and go to work," Lilly said. A former insurance agent with AAA in Tampa, Lilly used to spend about $100 per week paying friends and neighbors to take him to work. He has been out of work for over a year now, he said, and may lose his house as bills stack up.
Claire Wiseman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8804. Follow her on Twitter: @clairelwiseman.