TENNESSEE (WJHL) – “The Silas Gable Flatt Law” and “Dillard’s Law” are two laws named after victims whose lives were taken by drunk drivers. These two laws will go into effect in Tennessee on July 1.
“The Silas Gable Flatt Law” will charge an individual with a Class A misdemeanor for knowingly giving access to a motor vehicle to someone they are aware of is under the influence of an intoxicant or has had their driver’s license suspended or revoked.
Debbie Locke’s husband, Mike Locke, a former Tennessee state representative and local businessman, was killed by a drunk driver in 2014. She still advocates for tougher laws on drunk driving offenders and believes the “Silas Gable Flatt Law” will help deter people who enable offenders.
“Friends don’t let friends drive drunk,” said Locke. “Anything could happen. Anything. And this definitely maybe would save someone else’s life. I think they should be punished. In my opinion, that’s just enabling the offender to do it again. So, they should be punished just like the offender is.”
Norris Skelley, a volunteer with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said once someone gives an intoxicated person their vehicle, it becomes a weapon out on the roadways.
“The whole idea behind this is to keep people from giving vehicles to people who should not be on the roadways operating because they’ve lost their license through prior DUIs or they know that they have a substance abuse problem,” said Skelley about the “Silas Gable Flatt Law.”
Skelley also believes the new law will serve as a deterrent.
“Because if you know that you could be charged for doing this, you might think twice before you want to loan your vehicle to someone that knowingly has problems,” said Skelley.
“Dillard’s Law” enables the surviving parent or guardian of a child whose parent died from vehicular homicide to convert a child maintenance restitution order into a civil judgment at any time, rather than waiting until the defendant’s sentence is over.
“There has to be a measure of accountability and responsibility for actions [that] result in the death of anyone on our roadways, or especially of parents of children under the age of 18,” said Skelley. “We know of too many families that they’ve lost a parent and then their financial issues that come up with the family for years and years later on.”
Skelley said “Dillard’s Law” is another step in trying to help victims’ families of impaired driving accidents. Locke says any law written to help victims of drunk driving is a good law.
“I am nine years later paying for the consequence that a drunk driver killed my husband and I will be for the rest of my life, that offender should be paying also,” said Locke.
Last year, Locke also worked with legislators to get the “Truth in Sentencing Law” passed in Tennessee.
If someone is convicted of a violent crime, the “Truth in Sentencing Law” ensures that they must serve 100% of their sentence without any chance of earning reduced time. That includes vehicular homicide. The law also includes lesser violent crimes where defendants are required to serve at least 85% of their sentence. Before, defendants were required to serve 30% of their sentence before being eligible for parole.
Another law pertaining to drunk driving going into effect on July 1, is that boating under the influence (BUI) will have the same penalties as driving under the influence (DUI).