Tennessee bill would prohibit DUI offenders from buying alcohol

A bill recently proposed by State Rep. Bud Hulsey would add a new penalty to a DUI conviction. Those convicted of driving under the influence would be prohibited from purchasing alcohol. The prohibition would last for a year for a first-time offender and could remain in place for the rest of a third-time offender’s driving career. Additionally, stores, bars and restaurants could be criminally liable for selling alcohol to a DUI offender.

Hulsey, who served as a Kingsport Police officer for 36 years, says repeat drunk driving is a real problem. “We’ve gotta do something that has some effect,” he told Fox 17 News recently. “People who lose people in DUI crashes never get over it. People who are maimed never get over it.”

Here’s how the bill would work, according to Hulsey:

• Under existing law, a person convicted of a first-time DUI loses their license for a year, and that wouldn’t change. When it came time to have their license reinstated, however, the offender’s new license would be marked with a red stripe. This would indicate that the person was not eligible to purchase alcohol for a year from the date the new license was issued.

• Second-time offenders lose their licenses for two years. A new license would have a stripe indicating the driver could not buy alcohol for two years from the date the license was issued.

• Third-time and subsequent offenders have their licenses revoked for six to eight years. Their new licenses would indicate they were barred from buying alcohol for the remainder of their driving careers.

• The bill would make selling alcohol to someone with a license-based restriction a Class C misdemeanor. If someone in a store, bar or restaurant was caught selling to them anyway, that person could be fined and sentenced to just under six months in jail.

Friends and family members could still purchase alcohol on a restricted person’s behalf. The bill would not prohibit the person from drinking — only from buying alcohol. Hulsey commented that this provision keeps the bill from being a “prohibition” bill.

Hulsey is awaiting an estimate from the Safety Department on how much the license striping would cost. He guesses the additional cost would be around $15, and his bill would pass that cost on to the offender.

The representative says he has submitted the bill to legal counsel and already has found other representatives interested in co-sponsoring it.

If passed, the license striping bill would add additional consequences to what is already a costly and difficult sentence.

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