Nashville, TN – A Tennessee state representative is drafting a bill aimed at preventing the sale of alcohol to DUI offenders, in an effort to reduce incidences of drunk driving.
Kingsport Republican Representative Bud Hulsey, a retired 36-year veteran of the Kingsport Police Department, said that the proposed bill would prohibit merchants from selling alcohol to convicted DUI offenders, commensurate with the number of DUI offenses the offenders have committed, WZTV reported.
"We've gotta do something that has some effect," Hulsey said. "People who lose people in DUI crashes never get over it. People who are maimed never get over it."
Under current Tennessee law, drivers convicted of a first-offense DUI lose the privilege to drive for a period of one year.
The new bill would further penalize offenders by requiring a modification to their driver’s licenses after the driving suspension term expires, Hulsey explained.
The newly-issued licenses would be emblazoned with a red stripe to indicate that the driver was not allowed to purchase alcohol.
First offenders would have the red stripe for one year beyond the date of license reinstatement.
Second-offense DUI convicts would lose driving privileges for two years, and in the event of a third DUI conviction, the red stripe would remain on the driver’s license forever, prohibiting merchants from selling alcohol to the license holder for life.
In the event of a third DUI conviction, the red stripe on the driver’s license would prohibit merchants from selling alcohol to the holder for life.
While the DUI offenders would be penalized by not being able to purchase alcohol, any violation of the actual law would be committed by the merchant. The seller would face a misdemeanor offense, subject to a maximum of five months and 29 days of incarceration, plus a fine.
“Some people are claiming this is a prohibition bill,” Hulsey said. “It’s not about the sale of alcohol. This is about selling to an offender.”
Although the bill would ban the sale of alcohol to DUI offenders, Hulsey recognizes that it will not stop them from being able to access it.
"The offender isn't banned from drinking," Hulsey explained. "That's why it's not a prohibition bill. If a family member or someone wants to give them alcohol, they can still drink it. It's a loophole in the bill that can't be plugged up. It's not illegal for the offender to drink."
Hulsey said that the estimated $15 license modification cost would be passed on to the offender.
Next, Hulsey wants to focus his attention on stopping people who drive while under the influence of prescription drugs.
"I gotta find a way to deal with that," Hulsey said. "There are more people driving impaired now than those driving drunk. I'm asking my constituents and others for their feedback on how we can stop that problem as well."
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