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A Kill-Switch for DUI Wannabe’s

Back a century or more getting into a one or two horse-powered vehicle was rarely a cause for concern. The horse knew the way home and made it there without error or mishap, regardless of the driver’s sense of direction or awareness. But now the same drunk or buzzed person gets into a vehicle with hundreds of horsepower and hundreds of pounds of steel, fiberglass and glass, and hurtles who knows where, at whatever speed without any awareness of what or who is ahead. And sadly they may never even realize or recall anything that occurred.

In Tennessee, 257 people died in crashes caused by drunken drivers, in 2011. These were all drivers whose blood-alcohol level was above 0.08 percent. The drivers were sure they could handle it or were too proud to sleep it off, call a cab or friend/parent. Their victims, on the other hand, would have gladly made the calls and paid for the cab just to know everyone got home safe that night

One way of preventing persons who have already been convicted of a DUI is the ignition interlock device. The device is not a violation of the presumption of innocence but a consequence of the actual behavior, justly decided in a court of law based on evidence. This device is used throughout the US but not in every locality.

Tennessee lawmakers “unanimously approved 95-0 in the House on Tuesday before passing the Senate 31-0, sending it to the governor for consideration” ( from http://www.wrcbtv.com/story/21997150/lawmakers-pass-bill-for-more-igniti...). The impact should be significant. HB 35/SB 670 would require ignition interlock devices for any conviction resulting from a .08 reading. In the case of your first conviction for DUI the device would be made mandatory for six months. For the next conviction a minimum of one year would be put into effect. No doubt some method of preventing drivers from using another vehicle would have to be considered. But you and other potential victims cannot wait for a perfect system. The Williamson County Drug Court has been using “alcohol-detecting bracelets.”

California has a similar law and half the number of DUI-related deaths. Perhaps next year Tennessee can be the same or less than California.

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