At the close of Tennessee’s 59th special legislative session last month, the state legislature approved changes to a DUI law that did not comply with federal law. The federal government said the statute, unaltered, could cost Tennessee $60 million in federal funding.
The Tennessee law was out of compliance with federal law because the legislature had eliminated a provision that rendered the allowable BAC as .08. The bill’s purpose was to add stiffer penalties for underage drinkers. The federal government found that the law did not comply with the federal zero tolerance law, which requires states to set the allowable BAC at .02 for drivers under 21. The federal government reacted stringently, giving Tennessee until October 1 to align the state’s BAC limit for 18-year-olds to 21-year-olds with the federal law.