(NASHVILLE, TN) – State Senator Doug Overbey (R-Maryville) won passage of two bills which aim to curb drunk driving in Tennessee this after they were approved by the State Senate. One bill clarifies that Tennessee’s DUI law includes offenders driving under the influence of prescription drugs, while the other measure requires blood alcohol testing or a breath sample for a suspected drunk driver if a court order or search warrant is issued.
“Both of these bills would curb drunk driving by ensuring that offenders cannot skirt prosecution,” said Senator Overbey (R-Maryville). “Those who drink and drive or take intoxicating substances and get behind the wheel of a car must be accountable for their actions.”
Under present law, a person is charged with violating the state’s “implied consent” law if they refuse to be tested. A person violating the implied consent law gives up the right to drive, unless they are being charged for the first time in which an exception can be made for travel to and from work, for a period of one year. This applies even if the suspect is found not guilty. The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security have reported 2,241 drivers were convicted for rejecting the tests during the last one-year reporting period.
Senate Bill 2914 clarifies that the provision regarding not administering the blood alcohol content (BAC) test if the person refuses to submit does not apply if testing is mandated by a court order or search warrant. The law also applies to testing mandated if a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that the driver of a motor vehicle involved in an accident resulting in the injury or death of another is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
In addition, the State Senate approved Senate Bill 2915, which brings clarity to Tennessee’s law regarding driving while under the influence of prescription drugs. The legislation ensures that state law does not provide an excuse or a defense for offenders who do not have physical control of their vehicles due to them being under the influence of an intoxicant drug prescribed lawfully.
“There are far too many drunk drivers on our streets,” added Overbey. “I am very pleased that our General Assembly has approved this legislation.”
Both bills now go to Governor Bill Haslam for his signature