April 16, 2008
Crowe bill to require mandatory sentences for vehicular
homicide overcomes major hurdle in Senate Judiciary Committee
(NASHVILLE, TN, April 16, 2008) — The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved legislation sponsored by Senator Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) that would add vehicular homicide as a result of the driver’s intoxication and aggravated vehicular homicide to offenses requiring mandatory sentencing. The bill requires a those convicted must serve 100 percent of the sentence imposed by the court, less sentence credits earned.
In presenting the legislation to the committee, Senator Crowe spoke emotionally regarding his friends Dr. and Mrs. Larry Hudson who lost their son to a DUI offender with multi-offenses. David Hudson, of Piney Flats, died after he was hit crossing a Johnson City street in December by a man whose blood alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit. The man, who was charged with vehicular and aggravated vehicular homicide, had four previous DUI convictions dating back to 1989.
Senator Crowe said, “When I came before the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting today knowing that this bill has a $6 million fiscal note during a time our state has a budget gap, I was concerned that my chances of passage was slim. However, I am very appreciative the committee members felt that same disgust and call to arms to finally make progress in getting drunk drivers off our roads by imposing mandatory sentences.”
“We need to do the right thing and prioritize the safety of our citizens and do what needs to be done in placing these offenders behind bars,” said Crowe. “We have been pushing mandatory sentences for 20 years, and every year we hear the same financial argument that we just can’t afford it. This is about saving lives.”
He also referenced the mood of this Upper East Tennessee community after the death of Hudson. A billboard has been erected in the community regarding Tennessee’s DUI law.
“I have received numerous phone calls and letters from citizens who have had enough,” added Crowe. “There is a general disgust in my community regarding repeat DUI offenders that continue to drink and drive and kill.”
“I am very hopeful the Finance Committee will also think in terms of right and wrong –and the safety of our citizens, versus just the fiscal impact of this bill. I know it is an uphill battle, but I am hopeful that the bill will be met with the same sincerity there as it was in the Judiciary Committee.”
Representative Matthew Hill (R-Johnson City) is the House sponsor of the bill, SB 2869 / HB 3091.