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Proposed law targets drunk drivers
Feb 11, 2013 6:27 pm
Tennessee’s drunk drivers may soon have a harder time becoming repeat offenders.
A proposed bill would require all convicted drunk drivers to install ignition interlock devices, which disable a vehicle if the driver has alcohol in his system.
“Research shows that ignition interlock devices are one of the most effective ways to keep drunk drivers from continuing to drive drunk,” said state Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, sponsor of the bill’s senate version. “Unfortunately they’re significantly underused across the state.”
Currently, the device is required for anyone convicted of driving under the influence who registers a .15 percent blood or breath alcohol level.
The offender is responsible for the cost of the device, which typically costs between $100-$200 for installation plus a monthly rental fee that ranges from $70-$100.
Beavers and state Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, sponsor of the House version, proposed the 2010 bills responsible for the existing 0.15 requirement.
“This is the natural progression of what they had initially accomplished,” said Flint Clouse, executive director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving Tennessee.
“MADD urges the legislature to advance this lifesaving legislation because requiring convicted drunk drivers to use ignition interlocks has been proven to reduce drunk driving, save lives and prevent injuries,” said Jan Withers, MADD national president.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, requiring interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers reduces recidivism by 67 percent. The National Transportation Safety Board and American Auto Club recently lent their support for requiring interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers.
“I really don’t see a down side to [the proposed legislation],” said Crpl. Ray Justice, administrator for Wilson County’s DUI intervention program. “I think it’s probably a two-fold aid to what we’re trying to accomplish.”
It can act as a deterrent, and it can reduce the number of drunk driving incidents.
He cautioned, though, that it’s not foolproof.
“There are ways around it, kind of like guns,” said Justice. “The gun laws only work for honest people.”
Currently, 17 states require interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers. States that adopt all-offender ignition interlock laws are eligible for incentive grants provided by the July 2012 Surface Transportation Reauthorization legislation commonly known as MAP-21.