A bill that would stiffen penalties for those convicted of DUI when a passenger under the age of 18 is in the vehicle has been sent to Governor Haslam for his consideration.
The proposal, sponsored by Rep. Tony Shipley (R), has already received strong support from both chambers. Last month, the measure was unanimously passed in the Senate with a vote of 32-0. Earlier this week, the bill (HB 2751) also unanimously passed in the House by a vote of 94-0.
Those stopped for drunk driving with minors in their vehicles are already treated more harshly under Tennessee laws. As of January 2012, if a driver is stopped for DUI in Tennessee and a minor under the age of 16 is in the vehicle, the officer is required to take a blood alcohol test of the driver. If a person is convicted of DUI in Tennessee with a person under the age of 18 in the vehicle, the driver receives a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days of incarceration and a minimum $1,000 fine.
The new proposal would mandate that the minimum 30-day incarceration sentence be served consecutively (not concurrently) with sentences for other specified alcohol-related offenses. These offenses include: DUI, vehicular homicide, vehicular assault or aggravated vehicular homicide.
As lawmakers continue to make efforts to strengthen penalties for Tennessee drunk driving offenses, it is more important than ever that drivers arrested for DUI know their rights and potential defenses. An experience DUI attorney can provide further guidance.
Source: News Channel 9, "DUI proposal headed to governor," April 17, 2012.