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: BLOCKER, ROBERT  4118 FAGAN ST APT A CHATTANOOGA, 37410  Age at Arrest: 36 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County HARASSMENT --- BONDS, ARTTERIUS LEMONT  5011 CLUB DRIVE CHATTANOOGA, 37411  Age at Arrest: 24 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County THEFT UNDER $1,000 ... (click for more)

Butchee Charged With Whipping Daughter With Belt After She Balks At Pregnancy Test

Police have a Chattanooga man after his daughter said he beat her with a belt because he thought she was pregnant and she would not take a test. The girl said her mother held her down during the beating on Saturday. Egurtis Dejuan Butchee, 36, of Woodmore Lane was charged with child abuse and neglect. She said she was struck in the legs from the calves to the hips, on her ... (click for more)

Dennis Norwood: Through The Lens, My Early 4th Of July

Our wonderful nation’s birthday, the 4th of July, came early for me this year. Always one of my favorite holidays, perhaps it’s tied to that fact that my birthday is on Flag Day, this year’s early observance was extra special. The day was this past Sunday, June 25, and it came about as my wife and I attended a concert by our very favorite Christian artist, Sandi Patty, at Abba’s ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: California’s Foolishness

Over the weekend Hillary Clinton, the first runner-up in the latest presidential election, tweeted, “Forget death panels. If Republicans pass this (health) bill, they're the death party.” It was also being seriously debated if the psychotic action of the gunman who shot Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise was due to the repugnant rhetoric being increasingly spewed by other liberals. Great ... (click for more)

Former UTC Assistant Football Coach Suspended At ETSU After Threatening To Hang Residence Inn Clerk

A former UTC assistant football coach has been suspended at ETSU after police said he threatened to "hang with a noose" a clerk at the Residence Inn on Chestnut Street. Jeffrey Brumett, 35, was charged with assault, disorderly conduct and public intoxication. In the incident on Friday night, police were told by the clerk and by witnesses that Brumett was angry because his ... (click for more)

Cleveland High School Selects Joey Knox As Head Wrestling Coach

Cleveland High School has selected Joey Knox as the next head coach for the Blue Raider Wrestling program.  Coach Knox has been with the wrestling program as an assistant since 2013.  During his assistant coaching tenure, the team has secured six Team State Championships, including five individual State Champions and 20 State Medalists.    Cleveland High ... (click for more)