In Tennessee, it’s illegal for driver to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration level at or above 0.08%. While existing laws and sobriety checkpoints save countless lives each year, it doesn’t change the fact that Tennessee has an ongoing problem with repeat DUI offenders. According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, there are nearly 30,000 DUI arrests reported on an annual basis, with approximately 17,000 cases being repeat offenders.
To combat these numbers and prevent fatalities, Tennessee lawmakers have drafted Senate Bill 683.
What Is Dustin Ledford’s Law?
Senator Todd Gardenhire recently introduced Senate Bill 683 in an effort to impose stricter penalties on habitual DUI offenders. If passed, this bill will become “Dustin Ledford’s Law,” on behalf of a 24-year-old man who was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver in 2010. Although the driver was sentenced to 10 years in prison, a member of Ledford’s family spoke out on her behalf at a parole hearing in 2016. The family member was hoping that she could change the tragic narrative of Ledford’s death. Unfortunately, the driver was pulled over and arrested for a second DUI in 2017 and is currently awaiting sentencing.
The Penalties for Repeat Offenders
Senate Bill 683 completely challenges recent efforts to reduce DUI penalties and institute a system that utilizes state funds to treat addiction – the true problem – directly. Under the current law, a second DUI charge can lead to 45+ days in a county jail and fines ranging between $600-$3,500. Per Senate Bill 683, repeat DUI offenses may soon be considered Class E felonies with penalties that include a minimum jail sentence of 11 months and 29 days. “Dustin Ledford’s Law” is essentially increasing the time repeat offenders spend in jail by at least 4 months.
Judges in Tennessee can reduce a repeat offender’s sentence down to 28 days per the state’s sentence-reduction guidelines. Of course, the defendant in question can only benefit from this option if they complete a residential treatment program. Since the bill intends to turn repeat offenses into felonies, it’s currently unknown if this option will no longer be available to repeat offenders.
Although Senate Bill 683 has already been introduced to the House, it may fail to become law due to its projected expenditures. According to the bill, it may cost the state $44 million a year just to implement and enforce the new law. Sen. Gardenhire has referred the bill to the Senate Finance Ways and Means Committee in February. If the bill becomes law, it will go into effect on July 1, 2019.
Safeguard Your Life & Protect Your Driving Privileges
If you’ve been arrested for a repeat DUI, contact the Clarksville repeat and felony DUI offense lawyers at Patton | Pittman as soon as possible. A DUI conviction can lead to jail time, costly fines, license suspension, and increased car insurance rates. Your consequential criminal record can also harm your ability to hold gainful employment, go to school, or purchase property. With our help, you can avoid jail time and secure a charge reduction, case dismissal, or acquittal. Our trial-tested legal team can investigate your case, research your arrest, and develop a litigation strategy that pursues a positive case outcome. If you’re ready to fight your charges, rely on Patton | Pittman today!
Contact Patton | Pittman Attorneysat (931) 361-4477 to schedule a free consultation.