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TN lawmakers change DUI law to avoid $60M penalty

dui

NASHVILLE — Facing a $60 million penalty from the federal government, Tennessee lawmakers have repealed an underage drunken driving law that ran afoul of zero-tolerance standards.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 31-1on 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.

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.

Not making the change could have cost the state $60 million in federal road money.