Will new cars feature ignition interlock devices?

Tennessee drivers who are convicted of drunk driving offenses may be required to install ignition interlock devices.

Drivers in Chattanooga know that the state of Tennessee imposes harsh penalties on people convicted of drunk driving charges. The financial consequences of an impaired driving conviction are challenging to most drivers. The Tennessee Department of Homeland Security notes that fines alone can be in the thousands for a first drunk driving offense and as high as $15,000 for a fourth or subsequent conviction.

In addition to this, defendants can lose the right to drive for a period of time. Upon reinstatement of driving privileges, they can be required to install ignition interlock devices. These units are designed to detect impairment and therefore prevent drivers from starting the engines of their vehicles. The cost of installing and maintaining these systems must be borne by the drivers, adding to the overall cost of a DUI in Tennessee.

Why ignition interlock devices?

According to WSMV.com, in 2012 there were approximately 27,000 people convicted of DUI-related offenses in Tennessee. Of those, close to 5,000 were found to have been operating vehicles without valid drivers' licenses due to prior DUI convictions. Ignition interlock devices are intended to prevent repeat offenses.

Attempts to expand IID use and technology

Mashable.com indicates that two U.S. senators are co-sponsoring a bill that, if passed, would give $48 million over the course of a six-year period to an organization focused on stamping out drunk driving. The group called Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety is actually a multi-group coalition involving the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

DADSS has been researching new technologies for ignition interlock devices, something that drivers facing drunk driving charges should be aware of. One of the systems in development is breath-based like current IIDs. The other would operate based upon touch, utilizing infrared sensors. These sensors would be installed into steering wheels or remote start buttons. If impairment is detected, a vehicle's ignition would be disabled, just as with the current models.

In addition, BoldRide.com reported that a New York congressional representative is promoting an effort that would require IID functionality be built into new vehicles. This is stated to be aimed at auto manufacturers in the U.S. at this time. It would then eliminate the need for special installations for convicted drivers.

What should arrested drivers do?

While the future of IID technology is yet unknown, what is known is that the law cracks down hard on people arrested for driving under the influence in Tennessee. Drivers facing these charges should always talk to a lawyer for help.