Everyone knows that Tennessee law is tough on punishment for drunk drivers. Sentencing can include jail time, court costs, fines, loss or restrictions on driver's licenses, and more. One more relatively recent addition to such penalties is the requirement that a defendant install an ignition interlock device or IID as a condition of receiving a restricted license as a result of a DUI conviction.
The state of Tennessee already imposes some of the most punitive penalties for individuals convicted of drunk driving. In fact, even first-time convicted DUI offenders in Tennessee lose their driving privileges for one year.
Last weekend marked the beginning of the summer driving season, and it represents the beginning of increased enforcement by the Tennessee Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies in an effort to reduce the number of highway deaths and serious injuries.
There was a time when having a few drinks before getting in a vehicle was not seen as alarming behavior. There was even a saying, used as people would leave a bar or party, that they would have "One for the road."
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.
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.