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Feds hope strict DUI punishment will spread nationwide

The opportunity to drive means different things to different people. For a teenager, it is a new sense of freedom and independence. For a mother, it is a way to get her kids (and herself) out of the house and to the store for the third gallon of milk for the week. For many Tennesseans, a license is necessary to earn a living and support a family.

Contemplating the value of one's ability to drive is important when discussing drunk driving laws in this state and country overall. Tennessee DUI laws are already relatively strict, in one aspect in particular. And now, if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has its way, the entire country will enforce harsher consequences as in Tennessee.

Most commonly, people think of DUI convictions and how a person might pay a fine and temporarily lose his or her driving privileges. That sort of sentencing is significant in most drivers' lives, but there is more to worry about. Tennessee is even hard on someone convicted of a first DUI offense.

Anyone convicted of DUI in Tennessee will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles in order to drive again. The NHTSA released its informal suggestion that all states should fall in line with laws like in Tennessee and the 17 other states that require the interlock devices for all convicted DWI offenders.

Will the strict sentencing spread? As we just mentioned, various other states require the breath test devices for any DUI offender. Often, changes in sentencing depend on financial matters but also how the laws are working in other states. What do you think about ignition interlock devices. Has the stricter law made for a safer Tennessee?

Source: The Car Connection, "NHTSA: Ignition Interlocks Should Be Required For All Drunk Drivers, Even First-Timers," Richard Read, Dec. 18, 2013

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