Tennessee Celebrates New Lifesaving Interlock Legislation

Norris Skelley – MADD Tennessee Public Policy Chair, Millie Webb – MADD Tennessee Advisory Board Chair and former MADD National President, Brad Bulla –  MADD National Board Member, Senator Mae Beavers, Delanie Walker, Representative Tony Shipley, Jan Withers –  MADD National President, and Flint Clouse – MADD Tennessee Executive Director

Yesterday, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, MADD National President Jan Withers and Tennessee Titan Delanie Walker gathered in the State Capital for a bill signing ceremony and press conference in celebration of the passage of House Bill 353 and Senate Bill 670.  With the passage of this law, Tennessee becomes the 18th state to require ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater, and the total number of Americans now protected from repeat drunk driving offenders increases to more than 112 million.

Beginning July 1, 2013, when the new law goes into effect, first-time drunk driving offenders will be required to use an interlock device for a period of six months as a condition of a restricted license. The law requires an in-vehicle camera with the installation of every ignition interlock device. This advanced technology will snap a photograph each time the breathalyzer is activated. The camera will discourage drunk drivers from having someone else blow into the device, which will further support efforts to eliminate drunk driving in Tennessee.  Representative Tony Shipley and Senator Mae Beavers, both in attendance at today’s event, championed the legislation that received unanimous votes of support in both the House and the Senate.

Tennessee Titans player Delanie Walker, whose aunt and uncle, Alice and Bryan Young, were recently killed by a drunk driver, shared his story at the press conference and said, “Coming to Tennessee to play for the Titans is a new chapter in my football career.  And coming to Tennessee as we celebrate the passage of legislation to reduce drunk driving offenders from repeating their mistakes, I take pride in knowing that my aunt and uncle will not be forgotten.”

The passage of ignition interlock laws is a key element of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®, which was launched in 2006. The other two components of the Campaign are high visibility enforcement carried out by our heroes in law enforcement who keep the roads safe, and development of advanced technology called DADSS, or Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, to stop a drunk driver from operating a vehicle.

This is a great day for the people of Tennessee and for our nation as we move closer to our goal to pass legislation in every state requiring ignition interlocks for all offenders convicted at .08 BAC or greater.

Click here to read the press release | Click here to see more photos on Facebook

Photos courtesy of Allison Campbell Photography