Ignition interlock requirement around the corner in Tennessee

Just when it’s about time to officially welcome in summer, anti-drunk driving advocates are welcoming the enactment of a new DWI law in Tennessee. Starting next month, there is little forgiveness for anyone charged with driving while impaired, even a first-time offender.

Ignition interlock devices are like breath tests that are installed in individuals’ vehicles. In order for a vehicle to start, its driver needs to blow into the device and prove that he or she hasn’t been drinking, not just that they aren’t drunk. It is a controversial move for the state to require all convicted DUI offenders to use the devices.

Not everyone supports the idea to treat all drunk driving offenders like serious or repeat criminals. For example, if someone is convicted of a first DUI for having a BAC limit of 0.08, he didn’t cause an accident and has no criminal history, should he be treated in the same way as someone with multiple DWIs?

Clearly, lawmakers who have gotten the ignition interlock law passed think that all drunk drivers should be treated the same. They see the device requirement as a way to prevent repeat DUI offenses and as a way to deter others from committing their first offense. Drivers tend to be protective of their driving privileges.

Advocates gathered today to celebrate the upcoming change in law and how, they believe, lives will be saved due to the stricter sentencing. With the looming change in sentencing laws, first-time DWI offense defendants will want to be just as vigilant as a repeat offender in order to protect their rights.

Source: The Tennessean, “Advocates tout new law that targets DUI offenders,” Adam Tamburin, June 3, 2013

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