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DERBY, Kansas — After a Derby teen lost both of his legs when he was hit by an alleged drunk driver, lawmakers in Topeka responded by passing a bill in both the house and senate that will toughen up penalties against drunk drivers in injury accidents.
“In my opinion, this is something that should’ve already been on the books and been in place,” said Matt Liston.
Liston’s 18-year-old son Colby’s legs were severed in a crash in Lawrence last year during Colby’s freshman year at KU.
The alleged drunk driver who hit him faces just DUI charges.
The new bill would allow prosecutors to add a charge of aggravated battery in DUI crashes. Under current law, prosecutors have to prove the driver acted “reckless” before any new charges can be added.
The Liston family was outraged when prosecutors in Lawrence didn’t pursue harsher charges against the suspect in Colby’s case. The Douglas County D.A. he was held back by state law.
“They have lots of caseloads, DAs do, so they want slam dunks,” said Matt Liston. “They want cases they know they can win. And if they have to go in and do extra work sometimes they don’t want to do that so they charge what’s easiest.”
Colby Liston took the year off from KU to rehab. He now has prosthetic legs. The teen was a star athlete in Derby and had hoped to join the Jayhawk track team.
“He’s back to being an 18-year-old kid and I tell people all the time he’s not getting his independence back, he’s taking it,” said Matt Liston.
Colby hopes he’ll still be involved with the track team.