Dustin's Law would increase penalties for drunk drivers - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Dustin's Law would increase penalties for drunk drivers

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

There's a new movement to make the penalty for drunk drivers more harsh in Tennessee, especially if the driver hurts someone.

Leading the way is one family who lost their son too soon.

"You know, I prayed that when Dustin was killed that God was somehow going to use me and that he would make me available. And I didn't want Dustin to have died in vain. I didn't want him to be another statistic," said Kim Ledford, mother of a crash victim.

Ledford has been pushing for Dustin's Law for several years now. The bill honors her son, Dustin, who died when the car he was driving was hit by a drunk driver in 2011.

The driver responsible in the crash received a 10-year sentence, but the victim's family and several lawmakers don't believe it was enough.

This bill would change sentencing for this type of crime.

Right now, the harshest sentences go to drivers with a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit and a prior DUI.

This bill, though, would remove the part about a prior DUI. It would also add similar sentencing for drivers with a blood-alcohol level of just .08 and methamphetamine in their system.

This legislative session marks the furthest the bill has ever made it after hold-ups over the projected cost of the bill.

If it becomes law, it will mean an additional number of inmates at an additional cost estimated at $445,000.

The bill's sponsors hope a budget amendment will provide the funds for the bill to become law.

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