Local mother reacts to new DUI Legislation

Amy Dennis lost her son to a drunk driver car wreck in 2013.

Posted: Mar 13, 2018 1:06 PM
Updated: Mar 13, 2018 6:48 PM

Alabama lawmakers are hoping to make it more difficult for drunk drivers to get behind the wheel of a vehicle with new proposed legislation.

Senate Bill 1 is making its way through the Alabama House of Representatives right now. A local mother knows the pain of losing a loved one to a drunk driver all too well.

"Love, that's all Dez was," said Amy Dennis.

Dez Dennis was a football standout at Bob Jones High School with a bright future ahead. He landed a scholarship to play college football after his high school graduation.

"He loved to eat, everyday he would say 'ma, what are you cooking today?' Every Thursday night before a football game on Friday, I cooked for him and the defensive side of the football team," said Dennis.

On the night of October 25, 2013 Amy received a dreaded phone call. Her son and his lifelong best friend were involved in a deadly car crash. 

"It hit on my sons side, Dez was the passenger and my son died instantly," added Dennis.

The man responsible had a blood alcohol level that was more than two times higher than the legal limit when his car swerved over the center line on Martin Road and smashed into the car Dez was a in. He is now serving a 20 year jail sentence for the crime. 

"It was a tragedy when he lost him, not just for me and his sister but for the community of Madison and the Huntsville area," said Dennis. 

This year, the Alabama Senate voted in favor of tougher DUI legislation. 

If passed by the House and signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey, Senate Bill 1 will require first time drunk driving offenders who start a diversion program to use and ignition interlock for three months. 

"If it were 4 years ago, it might have saved my son's life," said Dennis.

A similar law passed in 2014, but loopholes in the legislation do not require all DUI offenders to get ignition interlocks on their vehicle. If passed and signed into law, the bill closes the gaps in the current legislation.

"Anything that will save just one life matters because you don't want people to go through what our family has been through," said Dennis. 

Since her son's wreck, Amy has joined Mothers Against Drunk Driving. 

She now shares her story at schools and other events in hopes of making people think twice before getting behind the wheel after they have a drink.

"He was going to do big things with this life and I feel like he would be proud of what I do as far as speaking with MADD, as hard as it is just to try to save a life because that was what my son was about, he as about saving lives and loving people," said Dennis. 

According to Governor Ivey's office, Senate Bill 1 is waiting final passage in the House then it will be sent to the Governor's desk.

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