NASHVILLE, Tenn. --- Republican leaders in the Tennessee state legislature have proposed a set of bills aimed at strengthening laws against drunk driving.
One of the bills would allow law enforcement officers to immediately confiscate licenses during arrests. The most comprehensive bill of the group would also mandate ignition interlocks for the cars of DUI offenders, lower the blood-alcohol content for "extreme DUI" charges from 0.2 to .15 percent, and raise penalties for refusing to take a breathalyzer test, the AP reported.
Another bill would make penalties stricter for possession of an open container of alcohol in a vehicle.
"We believe it's time to get tough on drunken drivers in Tennessee," Representative Tom DuBois (R-Columbia), co-sponsor of four of the bills, told the AP. "It's as dangerous as someone aiming into a crowd and pulling the trigger."
Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) is co-sponsoring legislation that would subject drunk drivers to charges of vehicular homicide or aggravated vehicular homicide if their intoxication behind the wheel leads to a death. "There must be consequences for irresponsible actions --- actions that kill and that put other law-abiding citizens in grave danger," he said.
The bills are HB2877, HB2876, HB2875, SB3040, SB3042 and SB1081.
According to the Tennessee Department of Safety, there were 1,284 fatalities on state roads in 2006. Of those, 509 involved a driver with a blood-alcohol content of .01 percent or above.