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Prohibition of alcohol sales for DUI offenders heads to debate

Tennessee legislators are considering a proposed bill that would expand on the penalties for DUI convictions by restricting sales of alcohol.

As we discussed in a previous post, the bill would prohibit alcohol sales to a person with a DUI conviction for a period of one year. The bill would prohibit third-time offenders from purchasing alcohol for life. Anyone caught selling alcohol to DUI offenders would be charged with a Class C misdemeanor.

Docket déjà vu

This isn’t the first time that lawmakers have proposed that DUI offenders should forfeit their consumer rights. In 2015 a legislative bill called for the prohibition of alcohol sales for third time DUI offenders. Unlike the current bill it made no mention of increased penalties for first- or second-time offenders. The 2015 bill failed in a finance subcommittee in the House of Representatives.

Will the added provisions increase the chance of the bill becoming law?

It’s possible. But the issues that plagued the first bill still accompany the new one.

Is there room for exceptions?

The bill doesn’t appear to allow for any exceptions – but maybe it should. Drinking wine or other alcoholic beverages is a part of some religious traditions and its prohibition may infringe on a person’s right to practice their religion.

Likewise alcohol is an ingredient in certain foods. Would restaurants be required to deny these types of foods to DUI offenders?

These are only some of the concerns that could be raised about a bill that has greater restrictions on alcohol sales than its failed predecessor. More than 80 years after the end of Prohibition, however, clearly the idea of prohibiting alcohol sales to adults has not gone away.

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