Rep. Watson Pushes For Stricter DUI Penalties With ‘Dustin’s Law’ Legislation

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Representative Eric Watson on Tuesday unveiled a new push for the state to adopt ‘Dustin’s Law’, a piece of legislation that creates stricter penalties for those caught driving under the influence of drugs and methamphetamine.

Dustin’s Law removes the requirement of having a blood alcohol content of .20 percent and a prior conviction to meet the standard for aggravated vehicular homicide.

“A death caused by driving under the influence is one of the most preventable tragedies there is because those people make a choice before getting behind the wheel,” said Rep. Watson. “I believe we must do a better job of cracking down on those who choose to drive under the influence—people have to learn there are consequences for their actions.”

If passed, the law would be a legacy of the bill’s namesake, Dustin Ledford, 24, who was killed on the evening of July 10, 2010, in a two-vehicle crash on APD 40 shortly after 911 dispatchers issued a “Be on the lookout,” or BOLO, alert for a vehicle traveling north in the southbound lane.

Under present law, a person commits the Class A felony offense of aggravated vehicular homicide if the person commits vehicular homicide and the person (1) Has two or more prior convictions for DUI, vehicular assault or any combination of such offenses, or (2) Has one or more prior convictions of vehicular homicide; or (3) Had a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.20 percent at the time of the offense and has one prior conviction for DUI or vehicular assault.

This bill revises the offense described above in (3) to instead specify that a person would commit aggravated vehicular homicide if the person commits vehicular homicide and, at the time of the offense, the person had (1) A blood-alcohol level of at least 0.20 percent; or (2) A blood-alcohol level of at least 0.08 percent and any blood concentration of methamphetamine. 

“I appreciate the sponsors work to ensure stricter penalties for vehicular homicide in the instances covered by Dustin’s Law”, Secretary of State Tre’ Hargett, said.

Rep. Watson is chairman of the House Criminal Justice Committee. He lives in Cleveland and represents  Meigs, Polk, and Bradley Counties. 


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ALLEN, PERCY 918 OAK STREET CHATTANOOGA, 37406 19 Chattanooga POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA ALLEN, PORTER SCOTT 3622 ALTAMIRA DR CHATTANOOGA, 37412 19 Chattanooga DRIVING ON ROADWAYS LANED FOR TRAFFIC, VIOLATION FAILURE TO REPORT ACCIDENT LEAVING SCENE OF ACCIDENT W/DAMAGE TO VEHICLE BEAM, ... (click for more)

Tennessee State Trooper Arrests 3 Men On Drug Charges; Seizes Crystal Meth In Coffee County

A Tennessee state trooper arrested two previously-convicted felons and another man on drug charges earlier this week after stopping their vehicle for speeding in a construction zone in Coffee County.  Trooper Donnie Clark  on Tuesday  afternoon stopped a sport utility vehicle for a speeding violation on westbound Interstate-24 near the 115 mile marker. Upon initial ... (click for more)

Shelley Andrews Will Be Missed - And Response

Shelley Andrews was one of the kindest, most thoughtful and most effective laborers in our community.  Her work with the Friends of Moccasin Bend was exemplary.  She listened, she learned and she led with dignity and class. Her brave battle with ovarian cancer was a testament to her positive spirit and commitment to her work on behalf of the people of this region. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Magic Bank Account

As the month of January is almost out the door, I am opening my email today to share a marvelous story that legend has it was printed on piece of paper found in Bear Bryant’s wallet when he died in 1983. While I don’t know that the famed Alabama football coach had this lesson in his wallet, chances are he might have if he’d read it. * * * THE BANK ACCOUNT & RULES Imagine ... (click for more)

Abbott Fuels Late Rally, Sale Creek Trips Whitwell, 68-57

Hayden Abbott, one of several Sale Creek basketball seniors honored between games Thursday night, hit back-to-back 3-pointers to key a fourth-quarter comeback and lead the District 6-A regular season champion Panthers to a stirring 68-57 victory over the gutty Whitwell Tigers. “Hayden hit some big shots that got some momentum going for us, got the crowd back into the game and ... (click for more)

McCallie Promotes Three in Athletics Dept

McCallie School has announced the promotion of three employees into administrative roles in the Athletic Office. Jeff Romero, Mike Newman and Ralph Potter have all been promoted to new or reconfigured positions.  “From a practical standpoint, responsibilities of a modern athletic program have grown beyond the ability of a single person to manage,” said Associate Headmaster ... (click for more)