December 1, 2023

Tennessee Modifies Rules and Consequences for Ignition Interlock Devices

In the past, if you were charged with a DUI first offense and were out on bond, there usually were not any conditions that required you to be monitored by the State of Tennessee. However, the new policy requires mandatory interlock devices for offenders who have specific circumstances surrounding their offense, including:

  • Their offense caused property damage
  • A minor was present at the time of the offense
  • The offender’s driver’s license has been suspended in the past for a similar violation
  • The offender has a past conviction for DUI, reckless driving, reckless endangerment, or vehicular assault or homicide, involving alcohol

The new policy requires offenders to submit their proof of ignition interlock device installation within 10 days of their release on bail. If the court does not require the defendant to have an ignition interlock installed, they must include a written finding on why requiring one would not be in the best interest of justice and public safety within the court order.

There are a few circumstances where acquiring an ignition interlock device is not feasible. Sometimes a vehicle is totaled after an accident. In that situation, an attorney can help you find an alternative to ensure that you are still in compliance with your bond conditions. Those alternatives could include weekly drug screening, a handheld interlock device, or an ankle monitor.

If I plead guilty to DUI and get a restricted license for a 1 year period, will I receive credit for the time I had the ignition interlock device while on bond?

No. In order to maintain compliance with having a restricted license, the Tennessee Department of Safety will require that the ignition interlock device be installed for the duration of your restricted license. That means if your DUI case has been pending for 6 months and you ultimately plead guilty. You will have the interlock device for a total of 18 months.

What if I choose to just not drive during that 1 year period where my Tennessee license is suspended?

You can certainly choose to not get a restricted license during that 1 year period. You just will not be able to legally drive. However, it is important to note that when you go to get your license reinstated after that 1 year period, the Tennessee Department of Safety will still require you to have an ignition interlock for a 1 year period. Essentially, you will not be able to get around the ignition interlock requirement.

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