Ignition interlock devices help to save lives in Tennessee

Tennessee requires all convicted DUI offenders to use an ignition interlock device. This law has helped to decrease the DUI fatality rate in the state.

Drunk drivers are not uncommon on the roads of Knoxville and throughout the state. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 277 people lost their lives in drunk driving car accidents in 2013. This number accounted for 27.8 percent of all motor vehicle deaths that year. Although this statistic seems high, the DUI fatality rate in Tennessee is on the decline, due in part to strengthened DUI penalties and laws. In 2013, Tennessee lawmakers mandated the use of ignition interlock devices for all convicted DUI offenders in the state. Officials hope to see the DUI death rate and prevalence of injuries continue to decrease because of this law.

What are ignition interlock devices?

Interlock devices prevent people who are intoxicated from driving a vehicle. This cellphone-sized machine is wired directly into the vehicle’s ignition system, according to the Century Council. In order to drive the vehicle, the DUI offender must submit a breath sample before and during the ride. The machine will evaluate the driver’s blood alcohol content level and allow them to operate the car if the BAC measures below a preset amount. If the interlock device measures a high BAC when the driver attempts to start the vehicle, the car will lockup.

Are IIDs effective?

Interlock devices have proven to be effective in reducing the amount of repeat drunk drivers on the road by up to 67 percent across the nation, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While more than 75 percent of convicted DUI offenders continue to operate a vehicle with a suspended license, they are unable to do so with an interlock device installed in their vehicle.

While all states in the nation have some type of legislation regarding interlock devices, 25 states and four counties in California have a law making it mandatory for all convicted drunk drivers to use these devices. These states have seen a dramatic decline in the number of people killed in a drunk driving accident. For example, Oregon has had a 30 percent decline in DUI deaths, West Virginia saw a 35 percent decrease and New Mexico had a 40 percent decrease. These numbers equate to lives that have been saved by keeping drunk drivers off of the road.

Legal counsel may be necessary

The choices made by drunk drivers can forever change the lives of innocent Tennessee motorists and pedestrians. DUI accidents can result in serious injuries, including broken bones, traumatic brain injury, paralysis and even loss of limbs. If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident, you may want to consider contacting a personal injury attorney in Tennessee. An established lawyer may provide vital legal assistance and help you to get compensation for your case.