TN- Close to 50 percent of first-time drugged or driving offenders will repeat their offense and sometimes with devastating consequences. Repeat offenders are considered and major problem in Tennessee so lawmakers decided to do something about it by enacting stringent DUI laws, which took effect on July 1st.

Amelia’s Law, named after Amelia Keown, a Tennessee teen, who was killed in a drunk driving collision, makes it possible for drunken or drugged drivers or parolees to be monitored for their drug or alcohol use. The law applies not only to intoxicated drivers, but to any criminal offender or parolee whose crime involved drug or alcohol use. This is done either through an ankle monitor or transdermal patches that measure drugs or alcohol on an offender’s skin.

According to the Daily Times, Keown was killed by parolee who a long rap sheet,  was on a handful of drugs and had been involved in a string of traffic collisions prior to striking the high school senior. Her parents launched a campaign to change the law and spent approximately two years trying to convince lawmakers to approve the law.

Under Amelia’s law, these drug and alcohol monitors must test take a sample of an offender’s perspiration every thirty minutes, twenty- four hours a day to ensure compliance.

The DUI Recidivism Reduction Act, specifically targets repeat intoxicated drivers. Under this law, which also took effect July 1st, repeat DUI offenders will be required to participate in a rehabilitation program once they have been released from jail.

Monitoring DUI offenders for their drug use is seen as a way to reduce overcrowding in Tennessee prisons. Drunk drivers are not considered to be violent offenders so these individuals are the first to be released. Lawmakers believe the mandatory requirement for alcohol and drug monitoring and rehabilitation will make the streets of Tennessee safer.

The newest set of penalties are already on top of current DUI laws which carry a jail sentences 45 days to 11 months for a first DUI offense with fines ranging from $350 to $1,500. A second offense and the offender can serve anywhere between 45 days or a year, depending on the circumstances of their arrest. Convicted intoxicate drivers can lose their license up to a year, and be required to install ignition interlock devices into their vehicles. The look-back period in Tennessee is 10 years.

Drunken or drugged driving has personal and financial consequences beyond the legal consequences. These challenges can include barring you from college admissions, certain careers and professional licenses. In the long run, a DUI can end up costing a convicted offender several thousand dollars or more.

With tougher laws on the books it’s important for any DUI offenders to retain a Tennessee DUI attorney to work on their defense and negotiate with prosecutors. With a solid DUI offense, it is possible for an offender to have their charges reduced or secure a plea bargain with prosecutors that negate some of the more severe DUI penalties.