Supporters to gather Monday in Nashville for Dustin’s Law event
by Staff Reports
Feb 23, 2014 | 844 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print


A delegation of supporters for Dustin’s Law will be headed to Nashville for a press conference Monday. Family members of Dustin Ledford invite others to travel with them in show of strength and support.

State Rep. Eric Watson said he hopes to see the press conference result in aiding funding measures already on the table for the new law.

Dustin Ledford died as the result of a head-on crash on APD-40. The other driver, Tiffany Isaza, was convicted in his death.

Isaza had consumed alcohol and methamphetamine and traveled in the opposing lanes of traffic on APD 40 before colliding with Dustin’s car July 10, 2010.

Dustin was 24 when he died.

Kim Ledford, Dustin’s mother, has fought to have law classifications changed.

Isaza was found guilty of vehicular homicide — her blood alcohol level being recorded at twice the legal limit — and child endangerment. She was sentenced to a decade behind bars.

She served only two years of that punishment before she went before a parole board. Parole was denied, but will be revisited this year.

Dustin’s parents do not see justice in that situation.

Kim and Danny Ledford, Dustin’s parents, began a campaign to argue for stiffer penalties for suspected drunk drivers.

Watson has been working to get funding for “Dustin’s Law.”

The number that placed “Dustin’s Law” to the side was $445,794 — the yearly estimated cost of incarcerating those convicted under the new definitions.

Kim and Danny Ledford, Dustin’s parents, began a campaign to argue for stiffer penalties for suspected drunk drivers.

Existing law states a person commits a Class A felony offense of aggravated vehicular homicide if the person commits vehicular homicide and the person: (1) Has two or more prior convictions for DUI, vehicular assault or any combination of such offenses; (2) has one or more prior convictions of vehicular homicide; or (3) had a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.20 percent at the time of the offense and has one prior conviction for DUI or vehicular assault.

“Dustin’s Law” would revise the offense described above in (3) to instead specify that a person would commit aggravated vehicular homicide if the person commits vehicular homicide and, at the time of the offense, the person had: (1) A blood-alcohol level of at least 0.20 percent or (2) A blood-alcohol level of at least 0.08 percent and any blood concentration of methamphetamine.

The executive director of the Tennessee General Assembly’s Fiscal Review Committee produced a summary that was hopeful.

“The number of prosecutions for aggravated vehicular homicide will be offset by a reduction in prosecutions for vehicular homicide,” wrote Lucian D. Geise of the committee.

“It is assumed that the convictions for aggravated vehicular homicide will come from those offenses currently being prosecuted as vehicular homicide that would constitute aggravated vehicular homicide, as defined in the bill. Any impact on the caseloads of the District Attorneys General Conference, the District Public Defenders Conference or the courts can be accommodated within existing resources without an increased appropriation or reduced reversion.”

That statement suggested additional prosecution and/or public defender expenses would require little if nothing more than was already provided.

There was a number that proved more formidable than .21, the blood alcohol content of the convicted driver, or 24, the age of the young man killed, or zero, the number of children Kim and Danny Ledford were left with.

“We are taking a van and leaving Cleveland at 10 a.m. Anyone wanting to go can contact me at 715-3157 or by email at kimledford5060@yahoo.com,” Ledford said.

According to Watson, the Governor’s Highway Safety Office, Congressman Todd Gardenhire, State Rep. Kevin Brooks, state Sen. Mike Bell and other sponsors of the new bill and Mothers Against Drunk Driving and possibly Gov. Bill Haslam will be in attendance.