Locals head to Nashville in hopes to strengthen DUI laws
A group of Tennessee parents and local representatives are heading to Nashville this week to push for the state to adopt Dustin's law.
Dustin's law has been in the works since 2011 after Dustin Ledford, a Cleveland native, was killed by a drunk driver.
On average one third of traffic fatalities are a result of drunk driving.
One group is working to lower that statistic and make the punishment for those getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, heavier.
"If I can help one person to prevent this from happening to them, I'm all for it," said Susan Pagan.
Pagan is only one of dozens who is making the trip to Nashville on Monday in hopes to make a difference in the lives of families who have lost loved ones to drunk drivers.
"It hurts more than the one who died and the one who killed them. It lingers with the family for years to come," said Pagan.
Currently first time offenders cannot be charged with aggravated vehicular homicide.
The group is hoping to strengthen the punishment for first time DUI offenders that kill someone in a crash.
They want a stricter charge of aggravated vehicular homicide to be applied.
Dustin's law would do just that, by removing the pre-requisite of prior convictions, only requiring a blood alcohol level of .20 or .08 with meth in the system.
A heavier charge means the jail time would go from 8 to 12 years, to 16 to 20.
Pagan lost her daughter last year in an alleged drunk driving accident.
"That was my baby, she had her whole life ahead of her," said Pagan.
All she has are mementos to keep her daughter's memories alive.
"Instead of holding the teddy bear, I should be holding my daughter," said Pagan. "It's hard knowing that the baby you carried for nine months, she'll never get married, never graduate from high school."
She says the bill could help countless families heal who have lost loved ones to drunk driving.
"The more people we have supporting this, the better off we are and the better chance we have of actually getting it passed," said Pagan.
The group will be meeting in Cleveland tomorrow at 10 a.m.
If you would like to participate or just show your support, you can contact Kim Ledford at 423-715-3157 or at email@example.com