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Beavers named legislative champion

From staff reports • Updated Nov 21, 2013 at 9:16 AM

Staff Reports

Mothers Against Drunk Driving announced its “2013 Legislative Champions” and recognized Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, and Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, for their leadership within the Tennessee General Assembly to stop drunk driving.

“MADD thanks Rep. Shipley and Sen. Beavers for authoring lifesaving legislation improving Tennessee’s drunk driving law. MADD appreciates their tireless work and commitment to advancing MADD’s mission in Tennessee by promoting effective DUI countermeasures like ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers,” said MADD National President Jan Withers.

In 2013, Shipley and Beavers authored House bill 353 and Senate bill 670, making Tennessee the 19th state to require ignition interlocks for six months on all convicted drunk drivers who have restricted driving privileges during a license suspension.

“It has been my one of my highest priorities as chairman of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee to help protect the people of Tennessee from irresponsible drunk drivers,” said Shipley. “Requiring convicted drunk drivers to use ignition interlocks has been proven to reduce drunk driving, save lives, and prevent injuries. As members of the Legislature, we should act to secure the safety of the people we represent. This victory has been years in the making and would not be possible without the efforts of my colleagues in the House and Senate and the tireless advocacy of groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving. I was proud to sponsor this legislation and thank my colleagues in the General Assembly for supporting this important initiative to better protect the people of Tennessee.”

MADD’s advocacy efforts across the Nation originate from the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving launched in 2006. A key component of the campaign calls for enacting legislation like H353 and S670. Prior to the campaign, only one state, New Mexico, required ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers. Today, 20 states, including Tennessee, require or highly incentivize the use of ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers.

“MADD applauds and is grateful to Rep. Shipley and Sen. Beavers for authoring legislation improving Tennessee’s drunk driving law. Thanks to their efforts, lives will be saved and drunk driving repeat offenders will decrease,” said MADD Tennessee volunteer Norris Skelley.

An interlock is more effective than license suspension alone, as 50 percent to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license. Ignition interlocks are effective in reducing repeat drunk driving offenses by 67 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For more information on ignition interlocks, visit madd.org/interlock.

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