Gov. Phil Bredesen signed Executive Order No. 34 today establishing the Governor’s Task Force on DUI Laws in Tennessee.
The task force is charged with conducting a comprehensive review of the state’s DUI laws and any relevant judicial opinions, and recommending to the governor any needed amendments or changes that would create a more comprehensive, clear and easily understandable framework of DUI laws in Tennessee.
“Throughout the years, the General Assembly has worked hard to strengthen laws regarding driving under the influence in our state. But in that process, the laws have evolved and become less clear, causing frustration and confusion among those who interpret them,” said Gov. Bredesen. “I’ve established this task force to review the current DUI laws in our state and to suggest some solid recommendations to help make them more comprehensive, straightforward and clear for all Tennesseans.”
The task force will be made up of 12 members, including a member of the Tennessee Senate selected by the Speaker of the Senate, a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives selected by the Speaker of the House, the Attorney General and Reporter or his designee, and the Commissioner of the Department of Safety or his designee, who will chair the task force. The task force will be administratively attached to the Department of Safety.
“Drunk driving is a serious, ongoing issue in Tennessee, and it's one we need to address with strict, easy to understand laws,” said Interim Commissioner of Safety Gerald Nicely. “The governor has asked the task force to review DUI laws to make certain they meet that criteria. As chair of the task force, I'll see that the group achieves its goals, and identifies any changes that might need to be made."
The governor will also appoint eight additional members to the task force, which will include, but not be limited to, at least one member of each of the following groups or organizations: judges, district attorneys, criminal defense attorneys, law enforcement and interested citizens. Members of the Governor’s Task Force on DUI Laws in Tennessee will be named in the coming weeks.
“The Tennessee Public Safety Coalition commends the governor upon the formation of the DUI Task Force” said Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin, Tennessee Public Safety Coalition chairman. “It is our hope that the DUI Task Force will look at streamlining the state statute in an effort for law enforcement to utilize state law in a more effective and efficient manner. The Tennessee Public Safety Coalition (comprised of the Chiefs of Police, Sheriffs, and District Attorneys) looks forward to the opportunity to work with the Governor and the DUI Task Force to benefit the public safety of our citizens across the state of Tennessee.”
The Executive Order charges the task force with conducting “a comprehensive review of the state’s DUI laws, including all of Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 55, Chapter 10, Part 4, and any relevant judicial opinions interpreting such statutes.” It also calls for the task force to convene for its initial meeting on or before April 1, 2006, and meet monthly before presenting its findings and recommendations to the governor on or before Oct. 2, 2006.
“This is a great opportunity to provide some clarity to the state’s DUI laws,” said State Rep. Joe Fowlkes, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “I appreciate the governor establishing this task force and look forward to working closely with them as they prepare recommendations for the governor’s review.”
Gov. Bredesen has charged all executive branch departments, agencies, boards and commissions, and any other divisions of state government with offering support and assistance as requested by the task force.