House GOP Goes After Drunks Driving with Kids in Vehicle

Press release from the House Republican Caucus; April 19, 2012:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The House this week agreed to tough new restrictions against irresponsible conduct behind the wheel that may save the lives of children.

Generally, under present law, upon conviction of a first DUI offense, an offender is fined between $350 and $1,500. This individual is also prohibited from driving a vehicle in Tennessee for one year, given a sentence that can range from 48 hours to 11 months and 29 days of probation, and be ordered to remove litter during daylight hours from public roadways.

However, if at the time of the commission of the DUI, the person was accompanied by a child under 18 years of age, then the person must be punished by a mandatory minimum incarceration of 30 days and a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000.

House Bill 2751, by Representative Tony Shipley (R—Blountville), will increase those provisions of the law. Under his bill, a minimum incarceration of 30 days must be served consecutively with any sentence for convictions of DUI, vehicular assault, vehicular homicide, or aggravated vehicular homicide.

“As an emergency responder in my professional life, I see too many careless individuals willing to risk the life of others. That must be stopped. This bill increases penalty for that type of violation,” stated Shipley after passage of the legislation. “This bill is a personal priority of mine and I believe it will help save the lives of our most vulnerable citizens—our children.”

Representative Julia Hurley (R—Lenoir City) who supported the legislation and is anxious to see it become law added, “This bill needs to become law because even one additional life that is risked because of the carelessness of a drunk driver. This was a strong action by the General Assembly.”

To view a full summary of the legislation, please click here.