Nov

22

Lawmakers Defend Tennessee DUI Shame Law

By Mary Ann

A Tennessee Governor’s task panel recommended scraping Tennessee’s DUI shame law after sheriffs, judges, and even anti-drunk driving advocates criticized the State’s practice of shaming drivers convicted of DUI. Tennessee’s current law requires judges to sentence first-time offenders to 24 hours in jail and 24 hours picking up trash on Tennessee’s roads wearing a protective vest stamped with “I am a Drunk Driver.” The shame law had been passed on the last day of 2005 legislative session and went into law without the Governor’s signature. Opponents of the law point to the high cost and difficulty in applying the law. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has said that shaming may actually lead to increased alcohol abuse.

Some Tennessee sheriffs and the law’s sponsor, however, are defending the law and even recommending returning to 48 hours in jail, on top of 24 hours of shame. Opponents of the law say they don’t want the law scrapped before hard data is collected regarding its effectiveness. They plan to introduce legislation saving the DUI shame law.

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