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DUI penalties should be even tougher

Posted Friday, February 1, 2008, at 8:39 AM

Gov. Phil Bredesen wants DUI suspects' licenses suspended immediately upon arrest, a laudable move that may be questionable considering one has to be first proven guilty.

Republicans are submitting bills proposing mandated ignition interlocks for DUI offenders and increasing penalties for refusing breathalyzer tests (a very common occurance, as I see several times a week in police reports)

I've shot enough photos of DUI-caused accidents to develop strong feelings about the issue. Add to the mix the fact I was struck in the rear by a drunk shortly after I got my driver's license, permanently damaging the car I drove through most of my high school years (nearly, but not quite totalled...it was never the same after "repair"), and those feelings become even stronger.

I'd suggest even more severe penalties for the guilty: A five-year driving ban for one offense, lifetime ban and a heavy, lifetime income tax -- that's right, an income tax -- for the second offense. Consider the costs caused by DUI cases and it's clear the guilty should pay.

Too harsh? Ask someone who's lost a loved one or has seen themselves or someone else permanently disabled due to alcohol abuse.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Actually, I have a problem with breath tests, I am sure there is someway to do a blood test like a diabetes blood sugar test then I would be all for it.

I personally feel breath tests seem too weak as tests, there are just too many variables that could mess up the readings.

Please this is my opinion, because I am only wary of breath tests. Penalties don't matter to me, because I don't drink and drive. I rarely drink alcohol anyways. Yeah, I know, surprised eh?

-- Posted by Evil Monkey on Fri, Feb 1, 2008, at 9:42 AM

With the number of offenders picked up for revoked licenses, I am not sure that this is enough.

How about proving you have a valid license before you can buy a car or penalties for those who loan, sell, rent to folks without licenses. If these people have to pay fines, the unlicensed driver will find it harder to drive as well.

-- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Feb 1, 2008, at 9:43 AM

Funny how I agree with all three of you.

The breath tests are kinda shakey, I think the blood test would be great if someone can figure out a way to do that on the side of the road.

I also think penalties should be toughened and those knowingly selling a car or loaning a car to ANYONE without a license should be held accountable as well!

-- Posted by LauraSFT on Fri, Feb 1, 2008, at 10:14 AM

Heck, Gov. Bredesen needs to also make sure the Officer's check for DUI's as well as multiple licenses from other states!

At least one TN drunk drive (I overheard) has current driver's licenses in other states as well as TN and will show another license during any DUI stops. He said that is so he can "avoid" higher fines, jail time and professional embarrassment.

-- Posted by daisy mae on Fri, Feb 1, 2008, at 10:41 AM

I don't agree with taking a persons license upon arrest. My ex-father in law got stopped and was accused of drinking and driving by the officer. The man was paralyzed on one side but could still drive and had a valid license and never ever drank at all. Because of the way he got out of the car due to the paralysis from an aneurism the officer thought he was drunk. Officers do make mistakes!

-- Posted by Disgusted on Fri, Feb 1, 2008, at 12:55 PM

I know someone right now that has his ex-wife blow in the thing that allows the ignition to turn on. Then he drives anywhere he wants to go, while he has his alcohol poured into his diet coke can. He laughs at the system and so does his teenage daughter. Its pretty sad.

-- Posted by ontheoutside on Fri, Feb 1, 2008, at 4:07 PM

I have reported it, by the way.

-- Posted by ontheoutside on Fri, Feb 1, 2008, at 4:16 PM

A family member was told to never accept the breath test due to the occasional false positive.

The blood tests are far more damning if one is guilty but will clear a suspect who has had an aneurism,etc.

Unfortunately,when this relative had his wreck,he remembered to reject the Breathalyser but was too concussed to ask for the blood test instead.

He was cited for refusing the test but I believe charges were dismissed when the hospital's blood scan showed no intoxication.

Even if we remove the drunks and recreational drug users,we still have fatigued drivers,distracted drivers,angry drivers and plain inept drivers.

We need to have more transportation alternatives so people won't think driving a car is a must.

We need to have fewer cars that are able to do the damage huge,high speed vehicles can inflict.

Let the Mad Max wannabes try to prove their superiority on a bus,bike or 35 mph car.

An automobile doesn't have to be a deadly weapon.

Neither does a knife.

Those who wish to use either should be ready to handle them as tools and not a means of having fun at others' expense.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Fri, Feb 1, 2008, at 4:56 PM

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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.