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New Tennessee law targets drunk driving first offenders

The law concerning first time DUI offenders in Tennessee has changed. The newly enacted law is effective on the first day of July. Going forward, those convicted of drunk driving for the first time are required by law to use an ignition interlock device on their vehicles. Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a nationally recognized organization, says that statistics have documented a 30 percent reduction in DUI fatalities in the 17 states that have already adopted the measure.

Under the law, first time DUI offenders will be required to use the device before starting their vehicle. The unit includes a Breathalyzer test, which the individual must pass before the ignition will function. Moreover, the unit automatically takes a photo of the person submitting to the breath test in order to confirm that the convicted individual did not use another person to pass it. The system is required to be used for a period of six months following a conviction.

The use of an interlock system obviates any need for a court to order a restricted license. As such, first time offenders will have the freedom to drive wherever they wish, so long as they successfully pass the Breathalyzer test each time they prepare to start the vehicle. The law, which is not retroactive, is also being promoted as a means of permitting those who have just one DUI conviction to drive as soon as the device is installed in their vehicle.

It's no secret that drunk driving is a persistent issue on Tennessee roadways, as it is in all states. Nevertheless, people do make mistakes and typically deserve a second chance. Those facing a DUI charge would likely benefit from gaining a working knowledge of the laws and procedures as applied to the facts and circumstances of their case. In that manner, they can work to ensure that their legal rights are fully protected as they fight to achieve a favorable result.

Source: wreg.com, "Breathalyzer Device Now Required on Cars for DUI First Offenders," Daniel Hight, June 5, 2013

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