ALCOA, Tenn. (WVLT/AP) Two years after Darlene Thomas's 21-year-old daughter Brittany and 10-month-old grandson Aiden were killed by a drunk driver on Alcoa Highway, she's advocating hard for change.
She's aware of a new law fresh from Nashville that will require first time offenders to install ignition interlock devices.
Tennessee's ignition interlock law will apply to more drunken drivers under legislation signed by Gov. Bill Haslam.
Currently, ignition-locking devices, which force drivers to pass breath tests to start vehicles and keep them running, are required for DUI offenders whose blood alcohol level topped 0.15 percent.
This bill drops the level to the intoxication threshold of 0.08 percent and would require first-time offenders to get the devices. In turn, those convicted of DUI won't get a restricted driver's license and will be allowed to drive anywhere.
For Thomas, it's not enough.
"They need to work to stiffen the penalties of people that are convicted. And people that do kill others when drinking and driving, it should be a murder charge," said Thomas.
She argues that criminals will find a way around using the device, continuing to put others in danger.
Jeffrey Knight, the man responsible for Brittany and Aiden's death is currently serving 2 concurrent ten year prison sentences. He'll be up for parole next year, and Thomas plans to fight to keep him behind bars.
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