Ignition interlocks now required for first-time DUI offenders

Ignition interlocks

KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Ignition interlock devices have been gaining support as a punishment for driving under the influence since the mid 2000s.

Since 2010, all 50 states have laws allowing for ignition interlocks. In 2012, Virginia made I.I.D's mandatory for first-time offenders.

On July 1, Tennessee joined 16 other states in requiring someone convicted of  their first DUI to have an IID installed in hopes of cutting down on repeat DUIs.

The Kingsport Police Department says people who drink and drive and are caught multiple times are common, but not standard. "We always see repeat offenders in DUI. Some people will have a first offense and honestly learn from it and change their ways. They realize they made a mistake and correct it," said Officer Tom Patton.

Having that ignition interlock as a reminder helps. They are designed as an extra measure to keep someone who's been drinking from driving. The device can sense even the slightest trace of alcohol and wont let the car start.

New IIDs even have cameras to keep people from cheating the device by having someone else breathe into the device.

Patton thinks the devices are a good first step, but still warns against drinking and driving. "When somebody gets behind the wheel of a vehicle impaired, they're driving a loaded gun around basically. It's a very dangerous offense to commit, "said Patton.

It's a dangerous offense that has deadly consequences as well. 

While police keep cracking down, other groups raise awareness and hope driver's can learn from the mistake. "They've been penalized but they haven't been penalized to the point that there's not any hope for them. In other words, it's a rehabilitation for them and it helps them in years to come, so we don't have the repeat offender," said Mothers Against Drunk Driving spokeswoman Linda Rothwell.

M.A.D.D. believes ignition interlocks give people a second chance.

But anything past that, says Patton, is too much. "[There are] these repeat offenders all the way up to fifth offense, seventh offense, tenth offense DUI. Those are just the scourge of society that are making the streets dangerous for everybody," said Patton.

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