Godwin, Morris, Laurenzi & Bloomfield, P.C.

Changing DUI laws may leave Tennessee drivers leery about justice

When most people hear about an instance of drunk driving, there is usually one thought that is universal: I hope no one got hurt because of that decision. That’s because, as so many readers of our blog know, drunk driving can lead to incredibly serious accidents. And behind every one of those accidents is a family that is left grieving and wanting justice for their loved one.

For so many victims and their families here in Tennessee, justice comes when the drunk driver is charged for their crime and sentenced to time in jail. This not only keeps that person from drinking and driving for a period of time but it also prevents them from causing a car accident as well. But if new legislation gets passed through the Tennessee General Assembly soon, jail time for DUIs could be reduced leaving some wondering whether people are really getting justice in the end.

The law change, which is currently being sought by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration, would reduce the jail time for repeat DUI offenders in exchange for the completion of an alcohol abuse treatment program. But, as we suggested above, this law change really begs the question: who is really getting justice in the end? While some argue that treatment programs are fairer to those convicted of DUIs because they are more effective at preventing repeat offenses, accident victims and their families often see jail time as a way of holding a drunk driver accountable for their actions, which often gives them the sense of justice they need to move on with their lives.

So while lawmakers may feel that the new law change may be a good compromise, some of our readers, who may have been injured in a drunk-driving accident, might not feel the same way.

Source: The Tennessean, “TN bill would reduce jail time for repeat DUI offenders,” Tom Wilemon, Feb. 2, 2014

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