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Tennessee examining mandatory interlock devices for drunk drivers

Tennessee is currently one of seven states thinking about enacting a mandatory interlock ignition device law for any driver who is convicted of drunk driving. The hope is that by requiring more ignition interlock devices there would be a reduction in the number of serious and fatal accidents caused by intoxicated drivers on Tennessee roadways.

According to the National Traffic Safety Administration, in 2010 alone there were 10,228 people who were killed in drunk driving accidents across the country. And while this is a 4.9 percent decrease from the year before, the rate at which the number of fatal crashes has decreased is rather slow when compared to the huge decreases that were seen in the 1980s and early 1990s.

With an ignition interlock device, a person who has been convicted of drunk driving must put a breath-test machine in their vehicle for a certain amount of time. Before the vehicle will start, the driver has to blow into the machine. If a certain level of alcohol is detected, the vehicle will not start, which would mean the drunk driver cannot operate the vehicle.

Right now, 15 states have ignition interlock device laws, and the Insurance Institute and Mothers Against Drunk Driving are both in support of more states adopting the practice. However, the American Beverage Institute is claiming that recidivism -- or the chance of a person being a repeat offender -- does not really decrease with the use of ignition interlock devices.

This viewpoint is in direct opposition to a study conducted by the Insurance Institute that found interlock laws to reduce recidivism between 11 percent and 12 percent.

But what do you think? Should ignition interlock devices be installed for first time drunk driving offenders? Do you think it would have an impact on the number of accidents caused by drunk drivers? Would the possible consequence of having the device installed be enough of a reason for a person to not get behind the wheel after they've been drinking?


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