The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved legislation, sponsored by Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) that would allow law enforcement officers to immediately confiscate the licenses of drunk drivers upon arrest. Called Automatic License Revocation, or ALR, this program would be the administrative process by which the Department of Safety suspends the driver licenses of individuals who are arrested for the offense of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“The number of victims at the hands of drunk drivers in Tennessee is unacceptable,” said Beavers. “One problem is that about one-third of all drivers arrested for DUI each year are repeat DUI offenders. The National Transportation Safety Board research shows ALR is a major factor proven to reduce DUI offenses among convicted drunk drivers, therefore reducing recidivism and many unnecessary alcohol-related car crashes. This bill will go a long way to help reduce the number of drunk drivers on our roads.”
Specifically, an individual could be suspended under the bill for a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) greater than allowed by law, which is .08 for drivers 21 years of age or older; .02 percent for those under the age of 21; and .04 percent for a person operating a commercial vehicle. The bill would also apply to those who refuse to take the BAC test. In addition, the legislation would allow for an issuance of an interim permit, valid for up to 90 days after the date of issuance or until the Department or Safety revokes a driver’s driving privileges, whichever comes first.
“A state that does not have a law that requires on-the-spot license suspension of a drunk driver’s license is simply not doing all that it can to combat the tragedies drunk driving," Beavers added. “It deters drunk driving by addressing dangerous behavior outside trial delays and plea bargains that can often plague criminal DUI prosecutions."
In 2006, there were 1,287 fatalities on Tennessee roads with 509 due to alcohol-related crashes. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among persons between the ages of 3 and 33, with 50 percent of those being alcohol-related.
The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 9-0 vote. The bill must be heard and passed by the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee before heading to the Senate Floor for a vote.