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Lawmakers reverse changes to Tennessee drunk driving laws

Recent changes to Tennessee laws regarding DUI penalties have been reversed due to widespread backlash and the threat of a $60 million penalty from the federal government. The changes were related to the penalties faced by those convicted of underage drinking and driving, almost costing the state an overwhelming amount of money for road work. Certain lawmakers feel that the threat of the penalty was unfair and a form of blackmail to pressure the state to reverse the new drunk driving laws.

In July, lawmakers approved changes to DUI laws that would bring stiffer penalties for drunk drivers 18 to 21 years of age and raising the allowable blood alcohol content from .02 percent to .08 percent. These changes are at odds with federal standards of zero tolerance for underage drinking and driving. To avoid losing 8 percent of federal road funding, the governor called for a special session to address the issue.

Some lawmakers have pointed out that the new laws would have made Tennessee the only state out of line with federal zero tolerance standards for underage drinking. Supporters of the bill deny that they were mistaken on the consequences of passing this bill and do not believe that the state would be out of compliance. Regardless, underage drunk drivers will still face serious penalties.

When a person is arrested for drunk driving, it is critical to secure legal help, especially if that person is under the age of 21. While there is zero tolerance for underage drinking and driving, it still important to effectively confront these charges. A person who is facing these serious charges typically benefits by seeking a case evaluation as soon as possible. 

Source: insurancejournal.com, "Tennessee Lawmakers Repeal Underage DUI Law to Avoid $60M Penalty", Erik Schelzig, Sept. 16, 2016

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