Movies, generals and restaurants all can get stars in recognition of their excellence. Tennessee, too, has recently been awarded some stars. In our case, we got four out of a possible five stars from Mothers Against Drunk Drivers for our state’s efforts to curtail drunken driving.
The stars were awarded in five categories the nonprofit group considers crucial to eliminating DUIs nationwide. While some might well consider the goal an impossible one to achieve, the organization now in its 35th year is determined to pursue it.
The five categories MADD has put together in order to assess every state in the union are the following:
- Mandatory ignition interlock devices: because Tennessee enacted a law in 2013 that requires all DUI offenders to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles, MADD gives us a star in this category.
- Sobriety checkpoints: those 12 states that do not use this law enforcement tactic did not get stars here. Tennessee is among the many using the checkpoints in crackdowns, especially around holidays and three-day weekends.
- Enhanced penalties for minors in vehicle: in addition to typical DUI penalties, a person convicted of driving drunk while having a minor passenger in the vehicle faces mandatory minimum jail time of 30 days and a minimum fine of $1,000.
- “No-refusal” events: these events streamline the process of law enforcement obtaining warrants to compel drivers suspected of DUI to submit to blood tests.
- Administrative license revocation: here’s the one area in which MADD finds Tennessee lacking. The group wants us to start “utilizing ALR to help deter drunk drivers.” In states that have this, a police officer can confiscate a driver’s license and the state’s DMV can revoke a license independent of any criminal sanctions an offender might receive.
DUI offenders here face harsh sanctions that can in many situations be eased with the help of a Clarksville attorney experienced in DUI defense in court, as well as in negotiations with prosecutors to get charges dropped or reduced.