(Updated June 4, 2019)
Our MADD team worked very hard this session on several pieces of legislation designed to improve DUI law and save lives. We are happy to report that we had some successes with much needed changes to be implemented beginning July 1, 2019. But we also were disappointed that some of the items we felt would make a real difference did not get passed this session.
Let’s start with our successes:
HB0167/SB0403 (Lamberth/Stevens)– Omnibus bill that includes several changes to the criminal code with a focus on targeting repeat offenders. It passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate! See the voting report of this bill listed below. It has been signed by the Governor on May 24, 2019, and will go into effect on July 1, 2019.
- Changes DUI 5th to a Class D Felony which gives it a sentencing range of 3-6 years.
- Makes Vehicular Homicide and Vehicular Assault an enhancement for subsequent DUIs with no lookback period restriction.
- Changes parole eligibility requirements for DUI 7th or more. Current law states that offenders with a felony DUI conviction are required to serve 30% before being eligible for parole. This new law will now require that offenders convicted of DUI 7th or more will now be sentenced at 100% and have to serve at least 85% before they are eligible for early release (parole). This means that if a DUI 7th or more offender is sentenced to 5 years, they would be required to serve 51 months before being eligible for release.
HB0761/SB1342 (Garrett/Massey) – As introduced revises provisions governing blood and breath tests for determining the presence of drugs and alcohol. This bill passed in the House by a vote of 81-8 with 1 present and not voting. It passed in the Senate by a vote of 30-2. See the voting report listed below. This bill was signed by the Governor on April 23, 2019, and will go into effect on July 1, 2019.
HB197/SB215 (Hulsey/Lundberg) – As enacted, prevents an inmate convicted of a Class A, B, or C felony, including Vehicular Homicide, from using sentence reduction credits until the minimum release eligibility date applicable to the inmate is reached. This means that they will have to serve more time before being allowed to use “good behavior” credits to reduce their sentence.
It passed in the House by a vote of 64-1 with 1 present and not voting. It passed unanimously in the Senate. See the voting report listed below. This bill was signed by the Governor on May 24, 2019, and will go into effect on July 1, 2019.
And now for the disappointments:
HB0716/SB1409 (Griffey/Bell) – As introduced creates per se DUI offense of driving while the person’s blood includes any amount of Schedule 1 controlled substance or Schedule II, III, IV, or V controlled substance that cannot be dispensed without a prescription when the person does not have a valid prescription; enhances criminal penalties for impaired driving within a school zone. Unfortunately, this bill never made it to the floor for a vote because it could not clear the committees due to issues regarding the fiscal note and concerns surrounding the prescription component of the bill. Sponsors plan to make adjustments and re-submit the bill in the 2020 session. See the voting report of this bill listed below.
HB0772/SB0502 (White M./Akbari) – As introduced, specifies that the seizure and forfeiture of vehicles is applicable after certain DUI violations, rather than convictions. Similarly, this bill never made it to the floor for a vote because it could not clear the committees. There were concerns over wording regarding seizure of property. There were no actual votes taken in committee for this bill, but a history is shown below.
MADD Tennessee wants to thank everyone who worked so hard to support these bills this session! Many of you met with your legislators, sent messages, made phone calls, shared our blogs and Facebook posts, and did your best to help us spread the word so that others would support these bills too. You made a difference and we are forever grateful!
Now we’d like to ask you to please take a moment to review the above voting records and send a Thank You note or make a call to your Legislators and Senators if they sponsored one of these bills or voted in favor of these bills, regardless if the bill passed or not. We want them to know we appreciate their efforts as well!
We celebrate our successes and, though we are disappointed that not all of our efforts were fruitful, we are determined to continue our work to steadfastly improve DUI legislation, knowing that every improvement is a step towards a future of No More Victims!