TN Governor proposing changes to state's open container law
By WRCB Staff
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
A new bill being proposed by Governor Bill Haslam would make it a crime to have an open container of alcohol in a vehicle on Tennessee roads.
It's already illegal in Tennessee to drink alcohol while driving but the law does not include passengers.
This isn't the first attempt to change the law but other attempts have failed over the years in Tennessee.
The latest push by Governor Haslam has the support of a Chattanooga mom who has devoted her life to spreading the message about the dangers of drinking and driving.
Tiki Finlayson is the co-founder of 1N3, a non-profit organization that brings awareness to the issue.
She started the non-profit after her son, Kevin Yates, was hit head-on and killed by a drunk driver on Highway 153 in 2011.
Yates was just 25 years old at the time.
Finlayson supports Governor Haslam's latest push to change the law.
"I think it's something that every state should have been doing all along. No one needs to be driving in a vehicle with alcohol because they could easily pass it to the driver and the driver hand it back.
I think it would be great to have this bill passed," Finlayson told Channel 3.
There are some concerns though about the proposed bill.
Tennessee's law for passengers doesn't meet federal regulations and some of the state's share of federal road money is diverted to DUI enforcement.
Some prosecutors and police worry the money would be lost under the change.
Finlayson hopes that funding won't be cut either.
After her Yates' death, the woman convicted of killing him was sentenced to eight years behind bars.
She only served 19-months though because Finlayson, in an act of forgiveness, convinced the parole board to release her early.
The two women now speak together regularly at schools and community events.
They hope to drive home the message that one bad choice can impact many lives on both sides of a tragedy.
If Governor Haslam's bill passes, the money would be spent on improving roads in Tennessee.
He has said he would try to replenish money that goes toward DUI enforcement from the general fund but he has not yet made a specific proposal.