NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Several new laws take effect in Tennessee Friday that target driving under the influence whether on the state’s roads or on the waterways.
“Unfortunately in a lot of states, boating under the influence is not held to the same standard as as driving is. And unfortunately, a lot of people are really getting hurt,” said State Representative Brandon Ogles (R-Williamson County). “So we’re just trying to do our best in Tennessee to ensure people are safe on the water, yet have a good time. We don’t we don’t want our people getting hurt.”
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Ogles sponsored HB2270 (SB2736) which targets boating under the influence where penalties are getting harsher starting July first for repeat offenders. The legislation was dubbed Nicholas’ Law.
“Nicholas Law originated with a family in Williamson County that was involved in a tragic car accident and the young man lost his life,” Ogles said. “When we started to kind of investigate and I heard about the story, we were also running some legislation about the DUI laws in the state of Tennessee. And just hearing as that legislation passed through the committee process, I found it very interesting that the BUI and the DUI did not commingle, meaning your sentencing enhancements, your prior convictions for BUI didn’t cross over to DUI.”
The law “specifies that a prior conviction for the offense of boating under the influence must be treated the same as a prior conviction for driving under the influence of an intoxicant for purposes of determining punishment for a violation of driving under the influence of an intoxicant; specifies that a violation of driving under the influence of an intoxicant must be treated the same as a prior conviction for boating under the influence for purposes of determining punishment for boating under the influence.”
It’s legislation that Ogles said garnered the support of the organization “Mothers Against Drunk Driving.”
“They’re actually lobbying that in other states,” he said, adding that safety was a big focus of this past legislative session.
Senate Bill 0882 also targets people charged with drive under the influence. It says that someone charged with driving under the influence of an intoxicant, vehicular assault, aggravated vehicular assault, vehicular homicide, or aggravated vehicular homicide and the offense they’re accused of involves the use of alcohol, the court shall require the defendant to only operate a motor vehicle equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device if: the offense resulted in a collision involving property damage; a minor was present in the vehicle at the time of the alleged offense; and if the defendant has a prior conviction for reckless driving.
A Tennessee bill requiring a drunk driver to pay child support if they kill a parent during a crash also goes into effect July 1st. House Bill 1834 forces anyone convicted of vehicular homicide due to intoxication or aggravated vehicular homicide must pay restitution if the victim is the parent of a minor child.