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Facing $60M penalty, Tennessee repeals underage DUI law

Published: Sep. 14, 2016 at 11:54 AM EDT
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The Latest on a special session called by Tennessee lawmakers to repeal a state law that threatens $60 million in federal funding (all times local):

Tennessee lawmakers have repealed an underage drunken driving law that threatened to cost the state $60 million in road money by running afoul of federal zero-tolerance standards.

The state House and Senate overwhelmingly passed the legislation Wednesday.

A law that went into effect in July had raised the driving-under-the-influence penalties for 18- through 20-year-olds. But by also raising the maximum allowable blood alcohol content from 0.02 percent to 0.08 percent for those drivers, the state stood to lose 8 percent of its federal road funding money on Oct. 1

Gov. Bill Haslam hastily called lawmakers into a special session this week to reinstate the 0.02 percent rule, along with more lenient penalties for drivers below the legal drinking age. The session is projected to cost the state up to $100,000.

10:30 a.m.

Tennessee lawmakers have adjourned a special legislative session to repeal an underage drunken driving law that threatened to cost the state $60 million in federal road money.

The three day session that is projected to cost up to $100,000 was dominated by a successful move to expel Rep. Jeremy Durham following an attorney general's report that detailed allegations of improper sexual contact with at least 22 women over the Franklin Republican's four years in office.

The ouster of Durham was the first time a sitting Tennessee lawmaker had been expelled in 36 years.

On Wednesday both chambers completed the businesses they had been called into session for by repealing the drunken driving law that had run afoul of federal zero-tolerance standards.

10:10 a.m.

Facing a $60 million penalty from the federal government, Tennessee lawmakers have repealed an underage drunken driving law that ran afoul of zero-tolerance standards.

The Senate passed the measure 31-1 on Wednesday and the House later followed suit on an 85-2 vote.

The state law that went into effect in July had raised the penalties for driving under the influence by 18- through 20-year-olds. But by also raising the maximum allowable blood alcohol content from 0.02 percent to 0.08 percent for those drivers, the state stood to lose 8 percent of its federal road funding money on Oct. 1

Gov. Bill Haslam called lawmakers into a special session this week to return the 0.02 percent rule along with the more lenient penalties for drivers below the legal drinking age.

9:50 a.m.

The Tennessee Senate has passed legislation to effectively repeal a new state law about underage drunken driving that threatens to cost the state $60 million in federal road money.

The upper chamber voted 31-1 to pass the bill Wednesday and the House is expected to follow suit later in the day.

The law that went into effect in July had raised the penalties for driving under the influence by 18- through 20-year-olds. But the measure ran afoul of federal zero-tolerance standards for underage drivers by raising the maximum allowable blood alcohol content from 0.02 percent to 0.08 percent.

Gov. Bill Haslam has called lawmakers into a special session this week to return the 0.02 percent rule and the more lenient penalties for all drivers beneath the drinking age.

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