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. 


Corker Announces Vote On Highway Bill Amendment To Remove "Budget Gimmick"

Senator Bob Corker announced Tuesday the Senate has agreed to vote on his bipartisan amendment to the Highway Transportation Funding Act of 2014 (H.R. 5021) that he said "would remove a budget gimmick known as pension smoothing to pay for a short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund and force Congress to stop shirking its responsibility to pass a long-term transportation bill ... (click for more)

Suspects Identified In Cleveland Greenway Burglaries, Vandalism

Suspects have been identified in the vandalism and car burglary cases in Cleveland, police said. Detective Matt Jenkins expects to make the arrests by the end of the week.  A $500 reward had been being offered for information leading to the arrest of suspect(s) involved in car burglaries and/or vandalism occurring last weekend in and around the Greenway and its ... (click for more)

Senator Bob Corker: An Open Letter To Tennesseans

We are incredibly fortunate to live in a state in which companies worldwide are clamoring to establish a presence. Many attribute it to our pro-business culture, well-prepared workforce, low tax environment, right-to-work policies, and engaged citizenry.  That is why the announcement by Volkswagen to build its midsize sports utility vehicle and establish the South’s ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Wamp Refuses To Stoop

With less than two weeks before the Aug. 7 th election and the last week of early voting now underway in Hamilton County, Congressional challenger Weston Wamp sounded upbeat and relaxed early yesterday afternoon. “I’m pleased to say that I believe we are right where we need to be … maybe even more than we had hoped.” Wamp, who is challenging two-term incumbent Chuck Fleishmann ... (click for more)

Recap of 17 Stop, Prep Football Tour

Starting at Soddy Daisy at 7:44 a.m. and leaving Silverdale 14 hours later ( 9:58 p.m.), the fifth annual Chattanoogan.com prep football tour made whistle stops at 17 schools covering 220 miles.   The Chattanooga Jamboree is Aug. 15-16 at Finley Stadium and the season openers are Thurs. Aug. 21   - Cleveland vs. McCallie (Finley Stadium) ... (click for more)

NPSL National Championship To Be Played At Red Bulls Arena

The NPSL announced on Monday that the national championship match between Chattanooga FC and the Red Bulls U23 will be played on Saturday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.  The match will be played following an MLS match between New York Red Bulls and the New England Revolution.   Local fans took to social media to appeal for the game to be played in Chattanooga. ... (click for more)