A new bill that just passed the Tennessee legislature would increase the number of individuals who are required to get an ignition interlock device installed into their vehicles. Like many states, Tennessee requires drivers who are convicted of a DUI violation with a certain BAC to get the alcohol monitoring devices installed on their cars at their local auto shop. The new bill lowers the minimum BAC threshold which triggers the mandatory ignition interlock device requirement.

The new law, which was passed unanimously in both the house and the senate, lowers the BAC threshold for a mandatory ignition interlock device to .08% from .15% This effectively means that nearly all DUI offenders will be required to get an ignition interlock device installed on their car since the minimum alcohol content to receive a DUI conviction for those 21 and up is also .08%.

ignition interlock
The Tennessee state capitol, where lawmakers have just passed a stricter ignition interlock requirement for DUI's. (photo by AJ Batac via Flickr)

Ignition interlock devices, which can be installed by your qualified local auto shop (Fort Collins Foreign Car Service provides interlock installation services), are designed to make the roads safer by requiring those who have been convicted of a DUI to blow into a breathalyzer-like device before they can operate their vehicle. This allows these individuals to stay mobile and retain the use of their own vehicle while providing a greater piece of mind for others on the road.

The new law also changes another significant requirement that is common in many states, which is that DUI offenders who receive the ignition interlock device installed at a local auto shop, will not have a license that restricts them to driving only for certain purposes (typically to commute to work and school only). The law allows these individuals to drive anywhere they please as long as it is in their own vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock. Some  states restrict the license further than this and sometimes require a period of total suspension before the restricted licenses are granted.

The new law will hopefully keep more drunken drivers off the road and thus make our streets and highways safer for everyone. The number of tragic injuries and deaths that occur from drunk driving accidents is so high in this country that any positive developments towards limiting drunken driving should be commended. It looks like Tennessee just made a significant contribution to this effort and it will not go unappreciated.