Resident Explains Dustin’s Law To Bradley County Commission; Hopes To Change Existing DUI Laws

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - by Tonya Brantley

Bradley County resident Kim Ledford addressed the Bradley County Commission Monday evening to propose Dustin’s Law. She emotionally explained, “Representative Eric Watson has asked me to come before you to talk to you about what we have been through for the past 2 ½ years and what we are trying to accomplish from such a horrendous act. For those of you who don’t know, my son Dustin was killed 2 ½ years ago on APD-40 by a very intoxicated young woman. Since that time, I have fought with everything in me to keep his memory alive and to make something good come out of a horrible situation. I prayed when Dustin died that God would not let him die in vain. It was evidence to me at the funeral home when he died how much of an impact Dustin made on this county. He played baseball for Bradley High School and always had a beautiful smile on his face. He was loved by a lot of people. Dustin was 24 years old.”

She went on to explain, “My husband and I speak at victim impact panels. It is like DUI school where people have to go and listen to stories like ours to let them know the hurt and the pain that bad choices make. I am asking you to send a resolution to our governor in support of Dustin’s Law. To explain a little about the law, the girl that killed Dustin had no priors on her record and because of that, she got charged with vehicular homicide. We are asking that that be changed to aggravated vehicular homicide. It won’t help anything in our case, but maybe the next time someone gets behind the wheel intoxicated and hurts or kills someone it will have a greater impact on them.”

Mrs. Ledford then asked Captain W.G. Campbell with the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, the crash investigator on her son’s case to explain more about the bill.

Capt. Campbell said, “This is a good bill. Dustin’s Law is long overdue. The law we have now states if you get behind the wheel intoxicated and kill someone, you are guilty of vehicular homicide. This bill would change and enhance the existing bill to aggravated vehicular homicide. Right now, you have to have a prior conviction of DUI for it to be aggravated. I don’t think that’s right. This particular young lady in Dustin’s case blew a .24 and had meth in her system driving the wrong way on APD-40. If that’s not aggravated, I don’t know what is.

“This bill would change that where you don’t have to have that prior, to if you have a concentration level of .20 or higher or .08 or higher with meth in your system and as a result of that you crash and kill someone, you would be charged with aggravated vehicular homicide. Basically, it doubles your time in prison. The current bill for vehicular homicide is 8 to 12 years. The next time someone gets behind the wheel that is double drunk they would have to spend double time.”

“Last year 23 lives were lost in Bradley County in traffic accidents, of which three were alcohol related. In the last six years, 89 lives were lost, 24 of those were in alcohol related accidents. We need to stand up as a community and say we’ve had enough.”

Commissioner Robert Rominger placed a resolution in support of Dustin’s Law on next week’s voting agenda.

In other business, Sheriff Jim Ruth addressed the commission with a letter expressing his support for the resolution supporting existing state and federal rights to keep and bear arms and asked the commission to include his letter along with the resolution sent to state and federal representatives.

Commissioner Bill Winters explained the recent discussion that took place concerning the Bradley County Rehabilitation Health Board last week, specifically the economic challenges faced with the Choices program, a home healthcare support system. There has been a reduction of revenue and the board has had to reduce expenditures resulting in a loss from 193 to 185 patients. He explained the Alzheimer’s unit will be impacted the most. The recommendation was to move from that particular setting to setting up a rehab center.

The following items were also placed on next week’s agenda.

-Resolution for a water line extension in District 4. The extension is part of the community development block grant and is estimated to cost $987,000. Ocoee Utility District will be responsible for matching funds, $487,000 with the state up to $500,000.

-Rezoning request in District 6.

-Animal Control contract renewal. Chairman Louie Alford requested a recommendation come from the Finance Committee once it reviews it.

-Resolution declaring vacancy in the office of constable for the 5th District.

The Bradley County Commission will hold its next voting session next Monday at 7 p.m.


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