Scroll down for a link to the committee currently up for review of this bill so you can contact them to ask for their vote in favor of the bill.
Why do we need this Ignition Interlock on Bail bill?
An ignition interlock is a device about the size of a cell phone that is wired into the ignition system of a vehicle. The driver must blow into the device in order to start his/her vehicle. If he/she has a measurable amount of alcohol in his/her system, the vehicle will not start. It is a simple and economical way to make sure that offenders can drive to and from work, but that they can’t drive drunk.
Tennessee passed an All-Offender Ignition Interlock law in 2013 and amended the law in 2016 to add a compliance component. This means a convicted DUI offender must have an ignition interlock device installed on his/her vehicle for 365 days before he/she can apply for a new license. In addition, an offender must be violation-free for 120 consecutive days before the device can be removed and a new license issued. In Tennessee, ignition interlock devices stopped 9,055 attempts by drivers with a BAC of .08 or above from driving drunk in 2019.
However, in some Tennessee counties, it can take as long as four years before a DUI charge makes it to trial for the offender to be sentenced and ordered to install an ignition interlock device. And that was before Covid. With courts being closed for months at a time during the pandemic, the backlog could easily mean that DUI cases take even longer to prosecute now. In the meantime, DUI offenders are being granted bail and are free to continue driving while they await trial. Often, this means, they will continue to drive drunk.
Pamela Tidwell was driving her son Blake and his girlfriend, 15-year-old Keri Scheib, home from getting pizza when a drunk driver who had gotten his first DUI only 8 days before, hit and killed all three of them. Maddie Kruse and Rachel Lynch, both students of Briarcrest Christian School in Shelby County, Tennessee, were on the way to the beach with friends when a repeat offender out on bond for his sixth DUI rear-ended the van they were in, killing them both.
HB1188 (Garrett)/SB0882 (Stevens) would prevent such tragedies. It would “require a court, in setting bail for a defendant charged with driving under the influence of an intoxicant or another offense in which alcohol was involved, to require the person to operate only a motor vehicle equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device unless such an order would not be in the best interest of justice.” Requiring DUI offenders out on bail to use an ignition interlock device would immediately stop them from driving drunk again, saving lives.
What can I do to help the Ignition Interlock on Bail bill become a law?
For this bill to become law, we will need your support! On the road to becoming a law, there are several committees through which the bill must pass before it is even eligible to go before the full House and/or Senate to be voted into law. It will likely alternate between committees in the House and committees in the Senate as it moves through the process. Please bookmark this page and follow us on our @MADDTennessee Facebook page for updates about the status of this bill and who we need you to contact to let your voice be heard. YOU can help make this law a reality by emailing committee members and your own legislators telling them that you want them to vote in favor of this bill! Keep reading for instructions on who to contact, when, and even ideas of what to say.
Where is this bill currently in the process?
Below this Road to Law map, which shows where we currently are in the process, you’ll find a link to the committee currently up for review of the bill.
Who do I contact to ask them to vote in favor of this bill and when?
Listed below, under “Committee Member Links” you can see which committee is currently reviewing the bill. Look for our note that says “PLEASE EMAIL THIS COMMITTEE NOW.” Then click the link to get the list of committee members and email each member to ask for their support.
You can also click HERE and enter your address to identify the lawmakers assigned to the district where you live. They are charged with voting in a way that represents YOU, a constituent of their district. Please be sure to also contact each of them also and ask them to support this bill!
Committee Member Links
Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee – Review date TBD. PLEASE EMAIL THIS COMMITTEE NOW.
House Finance, Ways, and Means Subcommittee – Review date TBD. PLEASE EMAIL THIS COMMITTEE NOW.
What should I say when asking legislators to vote in favor of this bill?
Not sure what to say exactly? We have a sample of text below that you can copy and paste to use in your email if you’d like. Use it as it is, or adjust the wording as needed to personalize it and let the legislator know why this bill means something to you, and why you’d like to see it become law in Tennessee. Just be sure you include bill number, HB0679 (Carr)/SB0246 (Massey), in your email.
Sample Email Text
Dear Sir or Madame,
I am writing to ask you to support HB1188 (Garrett)/SB0882 (Stevens) regarding ignition interlocks for DUI offenders out on bail. I am proud our state has an all-offender ignition interlock bill requiring convicted DUI offenders to install and use the device before being allowed to get their license back. But I am deeply concerned that DUI offenders who are out on bail continue to drive while awaiting trial, sometimes for months or years, often continuing to drive drunk and endangering innocent lives. I believe this bill will save lives by ensuring they can no longer do that. I hope I can count on your vote in favor of passing this legislation so that it becomes law.