Bill introduced in TN Senate targets repeat DUI offenders

Local News

Dineen Cottrell remembers the day that changed her life and her body forever. 

“He killed my husband,” Cottrell said. “He almost killed me. He hit us and threw us both like 64 feet.” 

On October 15, 2016, a driver high on drugs hit her and her husband, Bobby Pyles, while they were walking down the street. The crash killed her husband and put her in a coma for six weeks.  

Cottrell still has trouble walking and has a traumatic brain injury.  

“I had a lot, a lot of bruising all over,” she said.  

The driver, Christopher Solomon, had several DUI charges before the crash. It’s a dangerous pattern Senator Todd Gardenhire is trying to stop with his new bill, SB 683. 

“That family is having to deal with this for the rest of their life,” Gardenhire said.  

The bill would create tougher penalties for impaired drivers caught more than once.  

Under the bill, drivers would spend a minimum of 11 months and 29 days in prison for their second charge. 

“I don’t think people that get caught doing this, and kill somebody at the time, I don’t think they’re really thinking of the victim’s families until they’ve been in jail for a long time,” Gardenhire said.  

Under current state law, a second DUI charge can include 45 days to 11 months in jail in Tennessee. 

“The message is simple: don’t do it,” Gardenhire said.  

Cottrell hopes the bill gets passed and prevents other families from the going through the pain she’s still healing from today. 

“If it had been in place, maybe he would not have done this to us,” she said.  

If SB 683 becomes law, it would cost the state $44 million a year, according to Gardenhire.

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