From a minimum jail sentence of 48 hours for a first drunk driving offense to an all-offender ignition interlock law, Tennessee DUI laws are some of the toughest in the nation. However, Tennessee newspaper The Commercial Appeal found a loophole in the state’s tough DUI laws that could leave drivers convicted of DUI with more jail time than drunk drivers who cause the death of another person. In fact, the newspaper found that some drunk drivers who cause fatal crashes might not even serve time.
Under Tennessee’s drunk driving laws, vehicular homicide by a drunk driver is a class B felony punishable by 8-12 years in prison after a first offense. However, Tennessee allows first-time offenders convicted of vehicular homicide while impaired to seek full probation, creating the loophole that decreases or even eliminates prison time.
In its investigation, The Commercial Appeal found at least three instances in which Tennessee drivers convicted of vehicular homicide while impaired avoided jail time. One of those offenders even had a prior DUI conviction.
It’s not uncommon for states to allow DUI offenders who cause a fatal crash to seek probation. Judges often deliver sentences in such drunk driving cases based on individual people and circumstances and consider various factors, including the desires of victims’ families. In fact, public records show that there has been at least one case in which a victim’s daughter requested that the offender be sentenced to probation, according to The Republic.
However, DUI attorney Victor Carmody Jr., who has represented clients in 22 states, told The Republic that allowing drivers convicted of vehicular homicide while impaired to seek full probation is highly uncommon in his experience.
There is no word yet on whether or not a bill will be drafted to close this loophole, but at Car Breathalyzer Help, we hope to see such a bill drafted to keep drunk drivers who have caused fatal crashes while impaired off the roads.