MADD Tennessee has been working diligently on legislative change that would save lives in Tennessee!

In February 2016, MADD partnered with the Ignition Interlock Coalition and Representative William Lamberth (R) to amend the current All-Offender Ignition Interlock law which passed in 2013 and required all convicted DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock device if they wanted to drive.  However, many offenders avoided installing the device by waiting out their probation period without a license (often driving anyway) and then applying for a license after the waiting period was over.  However, one of the benefits of the required interlock installation is that it forces offenders to make lifestyle changes that would prevent them from driving drunk.   Because the car will not start if the driver is legally impaired, offenders must learn to make different choices such as staying at home if drinking, using a designated driver, taking a cab or other ride service, etc.  Ignition interlocks help offenders change patterns of behavior, thus saving lives by keeping them from repeating their offense.

The amendments presented this week (HB 1843) would require that if the offender ever wants to get his or her driver’s license back, he or she MUST complete 365 days with an ignition interlock device and have zero violations in the last 120 days.  This means that it would no longer be a viable option for offenders to simply “wait out” their probation period and then go get their license.  They would not be allowed to get it, if they’ve not completed the interlock requirement.  For offenders caught trying to drive without a license anyway, the penalty for a first offense would be 2 days in jail, for a second offense 5 days in jail, and for a third offense 7 days in jail.

MADD Tennessee is grateful for the hard work and support of all those who have been a part of the continuing progress for ensuring this bill’s success, including co-sponsors Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D), Rep. James (Micah) VanHuss (R), and Rep. Tilman Goins (R).

Legislative Plaza Feb 23 2016 for IID improvements

(pictured l-r:  Brad Bulla, MADD National Board; Kate Ritchie, State Program Director, MADD Tennessee; Steve Bivens and Debra Coffey of the Ignition Interlock Coalition; and Chad Ross of Smart Start, at Tennessee’s Legislative Plaza, February 24, 2016.)

In addition, MADD joined Representative Mark White (R), the families of Maddie Kruse, Rachel Lynch, and Kara Holden along with Dave Brown, Andy Wise, and concerned parents from Briarcrest High School who have created a group called REP: Report Enforce Protect, to rally for increased communication among agencies regarding DUI arrests.  REP is a grass roots coalition that is determined to change DUI laws to keep repeat offenders off the road.  According to the group’s Facebook page, they formed after “a drunk driver with 6 previous arrests and 5 convictions for first time DUI offenses killed 2 beautiful girls, injured 3 others in the car, and forever changed an entire community.”  As reported by Andy Wise, in his article “TN, MS pass mandatory ignition locks, better reporting on DUI,” several counties in Tennessee and Mississippi have not been reporting DUI arrests and/or convictions to the TBI and the NCIC system in a timely manner.  This makes it impossible for law enforcement, prosecuting attorneys, and judges to know all pertinent information that would help them determine if a DUI offender should be considered a first offense charge or a subsequent charge.

The bills, HB 2199/SB 2577 and HB 1427/SB 2576 which passed the first committee this week, would require arresting agencies and county clerks to submit their data to TBI and NCIC within a week and officers to check NCIC records with each arrest.  Crash survivor, Kara Holden, spoke on Capitol Hill on February 23, 2016, urging lawmakers to pass this legislation.  The bills now move to the Ways and Means Subcommittee.

MADD stands by these families and this community and supports their dedication to changing the system so that repeat offenders are charged as they should be and kept off Tennessee roads.  We deeply appreciate the support of all the legislators who have advocated for these bills including co-sponsors Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D), Rep. Harold M. Love, Jr. (D), Rep. Raumesh Akbari (D), and Rep. William Lamberth (R).

For both the Ignition Interlock amendments and the bills for DUI arrest information sharing to become law, MADD asks YOU to contact your local State Representatives to let them know you support this legislation and ask them to vote in favor of these laws.  Click here to find your representitive.

Please share this information on social media and ask others to contact their Representatives as well!  #NoMoreVictimsTN