Ceremonial Bill Signing with Governor Bill Haslam, June 2016

A ceremonial signing with Governor Bill Haslam was conducted on June 9, 2016, for four pieces of legislation to improve and/or add to DUI laws in Tennessee.

Beginning in November 2015, legislation was introduced in reponse to a horrific crash on May 31, 2015, involving students from Briarcrest Christian School, outside of Memphis, TN.  A 6-time repeat offender, out on bond, hit a vehicle killing two rising seniors and injuring 3 others, making his 7th DUI.  The bills, HB2199/SB2577 and HB1427/SB2576, work together to require arresting agencies and county clerks to submit their data to TBI and NCIC within a week and officers to check NCIC records with each arrest.

Governor Bill Haslam with bill sponsors and the families of Rachel Lynch and Maddie Kruse
Governor Bill Haslam with bill sponsors and the families of Rachel Lynch and Maddie Kruse

The families of Maddie Kruse and Rachel Lynch, the two young women killed in the crash; and the family of Kara Holden, one of the young women injured; along with Dave Brown; Andy Wise; and concerned parents from Briarcrest High School created a group called REP: Report Enforce Protect, to rally for increased communication among agencies regarding DUI arrests.  REP is a grass roots coalition that is determined to change DUI laws to keep repeat offenders off the road.  According to the group’s Facebook page, they formed after “a drunk driver with 6 previous arrests and 5 convictions for first time DUI offenses killed 2 beautiful girls, injured 3 others in the car, and forever changed an entire community.”  As reported by Andy Wise, in his article “TN, MS pass mandatory ignition locks, better reporting on DUI,” several counties in Tennessee and Mississippi have not been reporting DUI arrests and/or convictions to the TBI and the NCIC system in a timely manner.  This makes it impossible for law enforcement, prosecuting attorneys, and judges to know all pertinent information that would help them determine if a DUI offender should be considered a first offense charge or a subsequent charge.

Crash survivor, Kara Holden, spoke on Capitol Hill on February 23, 2016, urging lawmakers to support this legislation.  The bills successfully passed, were officially signed by the Governor in April and May of 2016, were a part of the ceremonial signing in June, and will officially go into effect on July 1, 2016.

MADD stands by these families and this community and supports their dedication to changing the system so that repeat offenders are charged as they should be and kept off Tennessee roads.  We deeply appreciate the support of all the legislators who have advocated for these bills including Rep. Mark White (R); Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D), Rep. Harold M. Love, Jr. (D), Rep. Raumesh Akbari (D), Rep. William Lamberth (R), Rep. Ron Lollar (R), Rep. Dennis Powers (R), Rep. John Ragan (R), Rep. Steve McManus (R), Rep. David Byrd (R), Rep. Jerry Sexton (R), Rep. Debra Moody (R), Rep. Roger Kane (R), Rep. Ron Travis (R), Rep. JoAnne Favors (D), Rep. Jason Zachary (R), Rep. John J. DeBerry, Jr., Rep. Karen D. Camper (D), Sen. Mark Norris (R), Sen. Brian Kelsey (R), Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R), Sen. Joey Hensley (R), Sen. Sara Kyle (D), Sen. Doug Overby (R), and Sen. Reginald Tate (D).

Governor Bill Haslam with bill sponsors, Ignition Interlock Coalition representatives, and MADD staff and volunteers

The third piece of legislation was HB1843/SB2065, an improvement to the Ignition Interlock law which now requires that convicted DUI offenders must have an Ignition Interlock device installed in their vehicle for 365 days with no violations recorded for 120 days before they would be allowed to get their driver’s license back.  Read more about this new law here.

Governor Bill Haslam with bill sponsors and the family of Tyler Head
Governor Bill Haslam with bill sponsors and the family of Tyler Head

The fourth piece of legislation enacted Tyler’s Law, HB1514/SB1730, which allows victims’ families to apply for a sign to be erected at a crash site in honor of a loved one killed in an impaired driving crash.  For more on this law, read here.

News Coverage of this Event including Video Clips and Interviews: