Both the Tennessee House of Representatives and Senate have passed a new bill designed to curb drunk driving and prevent repeat offenders from getting behind the wheel while under the influence. The legislation, House Bill 77, sponsored by House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland, requires all ignition interlock devices installed on vehicles after Jan. 1, 2024, to be equipped with Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology.
An ignition interlock device is installed in the vehicle of drivers who have been convicted of a DUI. The device requires drivers to pass a breathalyzer test to ensure they are not under the influence of alcohol before they can operate their vehicle. The new legislation will require GPS technology to be included in these devices, which will geotag the location of the vehicle whenever the ignition interlock device is used.
Current law does not allow law enforcement to prosecute a driver if a photo confirms that someone other than the driver blew into the breathalyzer. Without GPS technology to geotag the location at the time of the ignition interlock device usage, it is unclear which jurisdiction the driver should be prosecuted in.
The new legislation aims to increase accountability and prevent drivers from tampering with or circumventing the ignition interlock device. By including GPS technology, the location of the vehicle can be tracked and the driver can be held accountable if they are caught driving under the influence.
The bill passed unanimously in both chambers of the General Assembly and will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.