Shelby County’s New Grant Funds Fight Against Drunk Driving

Posted On: November 9, 2015 under

presented by: Gary Massey
Shelby County, TN, was recently the lucky recipient of almost $1 million from the Tennessee Governor’s Highway Safety Office to fund its work against drunk driving. The money is earmarked in part for covering the costs of prosecuting DUI offenders, including the overtime pay of the police who conduct checkpoints. The checkpoints’ goal is to prevent drunk drivers from continuing to drive and causing accidents in the first place.
While this goal is certainly admirable, it is only part of the initiative. It’s also not the only thing that many people believe should be done in order to cut down on drunk driving and the deaths it causes. James Holden, whose daughter Kara was injured earlier this year in a crash caused by a drunk driver, wants to see a centralized database that records and tracks drunk drivers so that law enforcement can keep a closer eye on the repeat offenders across county and even state lines. He is fully aware of how close his family came to tragedy: Kara was one of the lucky ones in her car who survived, but two of her friends did not. He doesn’t want any other families to have to face the horror that those girls’ families have confronted, all due to one man’s poor decision to drive drunk.
Billy Bond, a prosecutor with the Shelby County D.A.’s office who often prosecutes DUI cases, says that Tennessee’s laws are some of the toughest in the nation on first-time offenders. All first-time offenders are required to go to jail for 48 hours, give up their driver’s licenses, and attend alcohol safety school at a minimum. However, he admits that for repeat offenders, there is still work to be done, and sentences need to be harsher. Hopefully, one outcome of this large grant will be some time spent on considering what those sentences could be. Any change that can reduce the number of injuries and deaths from drunk driving would be a welcome one.