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: ANDERSON, BRANDON MONTEZ  3216 GLEASON DRIVE CHATTANOOGA, 37412  Age at Arrest: 22 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY FELONY EVADING ARREST DRIVING ON REVOKED, SUSPENDED OR CANCELLED LICENSE SPEEDING --- BELL, TYRELL LOVELL  2115 12TH ST CHATTANOOGA, ... (click for more)

Portion Of Roof Of Building Next To First Tennessee Pavilion Collapses

A portion of a roof on an old brick building next to the First Tennessee Pavilion by Finley Stadium collapsed on Friday. City public works employees were clearing the rubble and seeking to temporarily stabilize the building. Officials said steps would be taken to have it completely demolished. It was part of an old factory once at the site. The building is jointly owned ... (click for more)

White Coat Syndrome And The Medical System - And Response (2)

Today I wish to share what I am feeling as a patient in our medical system. I am too old to put on airs at this point, and this is too pervasive of a problem for me to contain.   As I enter my AARP years, I am faced with so many medical encounters that evoke all kinds of uncomfortable feelings. I dread physician’s appointments riddled with government regulatory hypocrisy, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Readers Are Right

It is hardly a secret that since I have become intensely interested in public education in Chattanooga, I have tried to read, research and understand how our efforts have fallen horribly short in the last 15 years. We agree we have a crisis on many fronts and I hope it is equally obvious I am desperate for solutions. Much like school board member Karista Jones, I worry that we are ... (click for more)

Bucs Nip Silverdale In Error-Plagued Baseball, 9-7

The Boyd-Buchanan Buccaneers and the Silverdale Baptist Academy Seahawks played a crucial baseball doubleheader on Saturday with first place in District 5-A on the line. Both teams entered play for the first game at Silverdale sporting identical 6-0 district records, but you would never have known it by the way that first game was played. In a see-saw game where the side was ... (click for more)

East Hamilton Dumps Ooltewah 3-2 For Choo Choo Softball Title

Softball, like most sports, is about numbers. How about these two One – the number of hits East Hamilton got off Ooltewah pitcher Mackenzie Patterson. Three – the number of errors Ooltewah made and the number of runs East Hamilton scored in the first inning. Oh, and one more: Eighteenth – the number of the final out when East Hamilton pitcher Sydnie Rogers ... (click for more)