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Interlock devices: Lots of work, time, money and stress

Before Tennessee officials decide that putting ignition interlock devices in all DUI offenders' vehicles, the public should have a more developed understanding of what interlock devices entail. They aren't machines that are simply popped in and out of a car. They aren't free. They aren't always reliable.

The Tullahoma News reports that Tennessee's Senate Judiciary Committee has postponed judgment regarding a controversial drunk driving proposal in the state. Senate Bill 670 would require that every person convicted of a drunk driving offense have a breath test device installed in his car.

Enacting that idea sounds simple enough. "Found guilty of DUI? That person deserves what's coming to him," some might suggest. But "what's coming to him" affects not just that driver's life, but taxpayers can also wind up footing some of the bill for the widespread use of ignition interlock devices.

Also, the devices don't install themselves. An employee from one of the few Tennessee shops that install the devices into offenders' vehicles explains how doing so is "not an easy task." The breath tests aren't just propped somewhere on the driver's car. They are integrated into the electrical system of the vehicle because it has power over whether the ignition will actually start.

Not only is installing the device an intricate process, but it has to be done over and over. State authorities follow DUI offenders' behavior by checking the history through the ignition device. The machines are taken out of the vehicles as part of that evaluation process.

Requiring more devices among those convicted of drunk driving in the state will make a lot of work for the installers but also for authorities who are responsible for checking in on offenders. As the saying goes, time is money, and it's crucial for the state lawmakers to determine whether passing this strict drunk driving law is the best use of public service and dollars.

We will post an update when there is a development in this matter.

Source: The Tullahoma News, "Breathalyzers proposed in cars of all DUI drivers," Ian Skotte, March 9, 2013

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