Law enforcers and lawyers in Gallatin, TN, as well as those in other parts of the state, warned drivers to not booze it up before getting behind the wheel from August 21, 2013 through to the Labor Day holiday. Under Tennessee’s anti-drunk driving initiative called Booze It and Lose It, people who are caught driving under the influence (DUI) for the first time will lose their licenses, work the whole year, or-worse-spend a long time in jail.
At a press conference last August 16 at the Celebration grounds in Shelbyville, District Attorney Robert Carter of Bedford County promised strict enforcement of DUI laws under the Booze It and Lose It campaign. First-time DUI offenders are typically kept in jail for 48 hours, handed an 11-month, 29-day suspension, and stripped of their licenses. This time, reported the Shelbyville Times-Gazette, Carter emphasized that offenders will go to jail “11-29 or up to 30 years,” depending on the severity of their offense.
Carter also reminded people of the effects of DUI convictions. People will have DUIs on their records for life, and these will have a judicial impact for 10 to 20 years after the charge. “I like the phrase ‘Booze it or lose it’,” Carter said. “And we tell young people the ‘it’ you lose could be everything.” He also noted that potential offenders may be deterred by increasing penalties for additional DUIs and emphasized the seriousness of his office in going after them.
Also at the press conference was Tony Burnett, Middle Tennessee liaison of the Governor’s Highway Safety Office. Burnett said that traffic fatalities have decreased across the state, but have increased in Bedford and Rutherford counties. He also noted that fatalities tend to be high around the Labor Day weekend. To make the holiday a safe one across Tennessee, he said that there will be additional deputies, roadblocks, saturation patrols, and sobriety checkpoints.
At these checkpoints, people may be pulled over for questioning. Kenneth J. Phillips, a Gallatin DUI lawyer, cautioned that police can do “pretext stops” by pulling over anyone for, such as, having a broken taillight or not wearing a seatbelt. They can then ask questions like what time one drank or how much one ate. Phillips explained that police may do this to investigate possible instances of DUI, although one may politely tell the officer that s/he chooses to keep silent and not answer questions.
Despite possible issues, it is a given that city officials, police officers, legal professionals, and the general public want to minimize-if not eliminate-needless accidents or fatalities due to DUI. Everyone is advised to keep safe whenever possible, during the holidays and beyond them.