Proposed Plan Would Cut Funding to DUI Prevention Programs

Drunk drivers are responsible for numerous accidents in Tennessee every year. People who are victims of crashes caused by someone who was under the influence of alcohol or drugs are often left with serious injuries that can affect them for the rest of their lives. That is why efforts are made by authorities to catch drunk drivers and educate the public about the dangers of getting behind the wheel after imbibing.

A new proposal by Gov. Bill Haslam may put the funds used for those efforts in danger. Tennessee currently has no open container law. While it is illegal for drivers to drink while they are driving, it is not illegal for passengers to consume alcohol. Because there is no law that prohibits open containers, Tennessee is not in compliance with the federal standards. Therefore, $18 million of federal money must be spent by the state each year on DUI prevention.

If an open container law were enacted, the state would be able to use that $18 million in any way it chooses. The governor has proposed passing such a law that so that the funding could be used for highway improvements and road construction projects. Prosecutors have expressed concern, arguing that DUI prevention and enforcement efforts save lives. It remains to be seen whether the $18 million of federal funding currently used could instead come from another source.

Accidents caused by drunk drivers can be devastating and even fatal. People whose lives have been affected by someone driving under the influence may wish to contact an experienced attorney.

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