Tennessee’s choice: Repeal underage DUI law or give up $60M

If it comes down to it, Gov. Bill Haslam says Tennessee will make the hard choice to repeal a new drunken driving law rather than forego millions in federal road money.

Tennessee enacted a tougher law for adults under 21 who drink and drive, but inadvertently ran afoul of federal standards. The Republican governor wants to convince the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the law doesn’t violate federal zero-tolerance rules for underage drunken driving.

If that fails, Haslam says he could call a special legislative session to repeal the law before the state loses $60 million on Oct. 1.

Under federal rules, the maximum allowable blood alcohol content for drivers under 21 is 0.02 percent. The new Tennessee law raises that limit to 0.08 for 18- to 20-year-olds, but brings tougher penalties.



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