Tennessee’s rules on driving under the influence (DUI) are like those found in other U.S. states. An officer can charge you with DUI if during a roadside test your blood alcohol levels hit .08% or more. If convicted, the driver faces a list of penalties including fines, jail time and license suspension.
But two new DUI laws introducing new penalties were enacted earlier this month.
HB535, Dillard’s Law
Dillard’s Law is named after a couple who died in a car accident that orphaned their three children. This law changes rules regarding how drivers convicted of vehicular homicide due to intoxication pay for restitution for the surviving children of a parent or guardian killed in the accident.
Previously, the convicted driver only started paying restitution for each orphaned child after their sentence had concluded. The driver also had to pay the children until they reached 18 and graduated high school.
The new law now allows surviving parents or guardians to convert the restitution order into a civil judgment at any time. Essentially, surviving parents or guardians can opt to sue the convicted driver instead of having them pay maintenance costs to raise the children.
SB1318, Silas Gable Flatt Law
The other new rule is the Silas Gable Flatt Law, named in honor of an unborn child who tragically died in a crash hours before birth. Under the law, it’s an offense for anyone to offer their vehicle knowingly to another person who’s either under the influence of alcohol or drugs or a person with a suspended/revoked license due to an alcohol or drug offense.
Those convicted of violating this law for the first time commit a Class A misdemeanor. On conviction, the person must serve a 48-hour jail sentence. For a second offense, the convicted must serve a minimum 72-hour sentence. And a third offense results in a seven-day incarceration period on conviction.
Because these laws are relatively new, it would be best to consult a legal professional if you face either in a DUI case. These laws may be new, but you can still contest charges against you in court.