It seems no matter how tough state lawmakers make the penalties for drunken driving, some people still do it again and again. Check the “Charges Placed” section of this newspaper. Odds are you will see a few of the names of those charged with DUI today listed again for the same offense sometime in the next six months.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation released a study in 2009 that found 21 percent of people arrested in this state for driving under the influence will be arrested again for the same crime within a five-year period.
Those statistics are a sobering reminder of why changes are needed to the state’s DUI laws.
A few years back, state Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, helped pass a law to require the installation of a ignition lock on the vehicle of anyone who is arrested with a blood alcohol content of 0.15, and who requests a restricted driver’s license. Shipely is now sponsoring legislation to drop the intoxication level to 0.08 and require all first-time DUI offenders to get an ignition lock.
Will this help stop DUI offenders? Indications are the current law has helped — some. Expanding it might be a prudent experiment in tackling this problem.