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Legislator proposes a 10-year ban on buying alcohol

Drunk driving arrests can happen to anyone. You stop after work and have a few drinks during a happy hour to unwind with friends. Maybe you had one more drink than you should. On your way home, you see the flashing lights in your rear view mirror that let you know you are about to have a very uncomfortable conversation with Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper or Chattanooga Police Department officer.

It may be your first time, and maybe yours is a borderline case, with your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) coming in just under the 0.08 legal limit for intoxication. And maybe the trooper sends you home with a warning. You may have learned your lesson. 

But for some in Tennessee, it won't be their first time speaking with a trooper about how many drinks they have had, and could they step outside of their vehicle and perform some field sobriety tests.

According to one legislator, Tennessee had 761 people last year who had received their third DUI, and he says this year, it could be 900. So, he has introduced legislation to prohibit alcohol sales to anyone with a third DUI conviction for ten years or longer.

The bill would mark third-time offenders' licenses to indicate that they could not purchase alcohol.

While the legislature is good at creating prohibitions and other negative sanctions, it is likely that someone with three DUI convictions is not just unlucky. They potentially have a substance abuse problem, and if untreated, simply banning their purchase of alcohol may have little effect on their drinking.

Creating and adequately funding effective treatment programs, which could help those with substance abuse problems would be a positive first step, but are difficult to administer and complex. The legislature, unfortunately, prefers, simple and easy.

Source:, "Bill would impose harsher penalties on repeat DUI offenders," Patrick McMurtry, March 12, 2015

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