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Tennessee Drivers Facing First-Time DUI Ignition Interlock Device Requirement

Tennessee has joined a growing number of states around the country in passing a law requiring ignition interlock device installation for certain driving under the influence (DUI) convictions. In fact, over half of all states have some form of ignition interlock device requirements for DUI sentencing, and even more allow a judge to force ignition interlock installation at his or her discretion, according to the Governor's Highway Safety Association.

An ignition interlock is a device that requires the owner of the vehicle to breathe into it before the car will start. The ignition interlock will also record if the driver goes for a long period without breathing into the device, and it will trigger flashing lights and the car alarm if the driver has too high a blood alcohol content (BAC) level, in addition to preventing the car from starting.

In Tennessee, a judge can sentence any driver convicted of a DUI to install an ignition interlock device at his or her discretion. However, Tennessee's new law makes it mandatory that a driver can only operate a vehicle with a functioning ignition interlock device under the following circumstances:

  • The driver was arrested for DUI with a BAC of .15 percent or higher.
  • The driver has a previous DUI conviction or refused to submit to a breathalyzer test within the last five years.
  • The driver had a person under eighteen years of age is in the vehicle while driving with a BAC of .08 or higher.
  • The driver is involved in a traffic accident that injured or caused the death of a person, or caused $400 worth of damage to property.
  • The driver was convicted of underage driving while impaired or violating an open container law.

Part of the reason for ignition interlock device installation is a social deterrent against DUI. It can be embarrassing for drivers to have to breathe into a device before the car will start. And ignition interlock devices are only the beginning of the harsh penalties that can arise from a DUI arrest. Even first-time offenders face license suspension, jail time and fines potentially in the thousands of dollars.

Free Consultation With An Attorney

If you have been arrested for DUI, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can represent your best interests to the court, and possibly reduce some of the severe penalties involved in a DUI conviction.