While Tennessee reported a significant decline in the number of people killed in drunk driving car accidents across the state in 2013, the DUI fatality rate still shows that too many people are getting behind the wheel of a vehicle while intoxicated. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reported drunk driving deaths in the state fell from 286 deaths in 2012 to 277 fatalities in 2013. Although Mothers Against Drunk Driving also reported a 3.1 percent decline in drunk driving deaths, these fatalities still accounted for 27.8 percent of all automobile accident deaths in the state.
State officials hope that the 2014 DUI fatality rate will show an even further reduction in drunk driving deaths. This is due in part to new legislation that went into effect in 2013 involving the use of ignition interlock devices. Tennessee is one of 25 states in the nation that requires all convicted DUI offenders to use an ignition interlock device on their vehicles. The mobile breath test monitor is designed to keep DUI offenders from operating a vehicle by measuring their blood alcohol content level. The vehicle will not start if the offender’s BAC is over the preset limit. Other states that enforce this law have seen a dramatic drop in DUI car accidents, injuries and deaths.
In addition to interlock device laws, Tennessee also uses no-refusal policies when testing drivers who have been pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. Some believe that if state lawmakers started revoking driver’s licenses, it would help to lower the number of drunk drivers on the road as well.