Tennessee enacts legislation to combat drunk driving collisions

In an effort to keep our roads safer, legislation recently took effect that provides more authority to law enforcement officers and stricter penalties for those who drive under the influence of alcohol in Tennessee.

The hope is that these changes will help to reduce the number of people killed and injured in drunk driving accidents in Tennessee each year. According to statistics from the Department of Safety, drunk drivers led to 355 of the 1,014 fatalities caused by traffic collisions in Tennessee in 2012.

Among the new requirements, those convicted of drunk driving for the first time in Tennessee will now be required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. Individuals with an ignition interlock must demonstrate they have no alcohol in their system by blowing into the device - the car will not start if alcohol is detected. In addition, ignition interlock devices in Tennessee will now be required to come equipped with a camera, to identify the individual providing the breath sample.

A larger number of drivers suspected of being under the influence will also now be required to provide a blood sample following a traffic stop. Tennessee law now provides that individuals in certain circumstances must provide a sample, including

  • Those who have injured or killed another in an auto accident.
  • Those with a minor under 16 years of age in the vehicle.
  • Those who have a previous DUI conviction.

Officials hope that these stricter requirements will encourage individuals to avoid getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol, ultimately with the goal of decreasing the number of serious drunk driving collisions that occur annually.

Protect yourself from drunk driving accidents in Tennessee

Drunk driving accidents continue to be a serious concern both in Tennessee and across the country. In the United States in 2010, over 10,225 people died in motor vehicle accidents involving a drunk driver, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While there is little that can be done to prevent strangers from making dangerous decisions, individuals can take some steps to protect themselves from serious crashes. For instance, when planning an evening out, individuals should always ensure they have a designated driver or other safe way to get home, such as a taxi. If they opt to use a designated driver, it is also important to ensure the appointed individual does not consume alcohol during the night. In addition, if a friend is observed attempting to drive who appears to be under the influence, others should ensure he or she finds another way home.

If you have been injured in a car accident involving a drunk driver, seek the counsel of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney to ensure your rights are protected.