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How to improve Tennessee's DUI laws

Some look at Tennessee's DUI laws and believe they need to be more severe. They want the penalties to be more draconian, with larger fines and longer sentences. They look at a case of a repeat DUI charge or conviction and believe that the only reason the system failed is because the punishment was insufficient and the person did not serve sufficient time behind bars.

In one Tennessee County, they employ a special DUI prosecutor, and she only handles cases involving DUI 4th and greater. A 4th or subsequent DUI carries a 1-year jail sentence and up to a $15,000 fine, in addition to having your license revoked for 8 years and other penalties. 

And perhaps it is her job, which means she deals with all of the multiple DUI cases in her jurisdiction, but she knows longer jail time only means greater expense to the taxpayers of Tennessee.

She knows it will cost them in terms of prosecuting and then warehousing those convicted of repeat DUIs. Those longer sentences mean greater expense in terms of providing food, shelter and healthcare for those inmates.

In addition, she recognizes that it means a greater expense in the end, because even if they serve a long sentence, it is unlikely to alter their alcohol dependence and the abusive behavior it causes. She points out that taking away cars and licenses "doesn't change the root of the problem."

She wants better treatment programs and use of electronic monitoring for longer periods of time to ensure that the "root" behavior is changed. Because if that behavior is not altered, the prosecutor knows eventually she will see them again.

Newschannel9.com, "NewsChannel 9 Investigates Tennessee DUI Laws," Mikaya Thurmond, November 24, 2014

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